Kiyomi Watanabe in file photo. JUN MENDOZA
MANILA, Philippines — Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe is “unofficially” the country’s fifth qualifier to this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter on Saturday told The STAR the 24-year-old Watanabe has already secured her berth via the Continental Quota qualification having currently ranked 38th in the world in the women’s 63-kilogram division.
“If the qualification is cut now, Kiyomi is qualified,” said Carter, who is also an executive board member of the Philippine Olympic Committee. “The only reason why we don’t want to announce yet is because officially our cutoff is by the end of May.
“The final, official word will be released by the International Judo Federation by first week of June,” he added.
By June, Watanabe, a four-time gold medal winner in the Southeast Asian Games and a silver medalist in the 2017 Asian Games, will thus join gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno in Tokyo.
Just to make sure, Watanabe is looking at participating in various competitions for her to make it to the world’s top 16, which will book her outright Tokyo qualification.
The first one she’ll be joining is the Tel Aviv Grand Slam set late this month as well one event next month, two in March, two in April and one in May.
Also with realistic chance of making the cut are the Nakano brothers Shugen and Keisei, who are also Japan-based and will join Watanabe in her international sorties soon.
Shugen is a gold medalist in the 66kg while Keisei a bronze medal winner in the 2019 SEAG in San Fernando, Pampanga.
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