MANILA - Despite having been inactive for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipina karateka Joane Orbon is confident she can qualify for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Like most athletes worldwide, Orbon saw her competition schedule for 2020 wiped out by the global health crisis. The final qualifier to the Tokyo Games was postponed when the Olympics itself was rescheduled to 2021.
Nonetheless, she remains in good condition, and Orbon believes she can reach her peak form in time for the World Olympic Qualification Tournament that is set for Paris, France in June.
"My condition is okay," said Orbon during an appearance on the "PSC Hour" this Saturday. " It's not at the peak level as it was last year at this time, but we're all starting from ground zero, we're all starting over again."
"At this point, I think if you're an athlete, you'll always be an athlete. And for myself, it's very easy to jumpstart my body, to go into Olympic elite mode," she explained. "But I feel good. I've been moving, I've been training still."
Orbon initially competed for the United States, winning national titles along the way before she switched federations in November 2019. She first represented the Philippines in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, winning bronze in the -61kg division.
Now based in San Francisco, Orbon says she finds a way to run five kilometers at least three times a week to stay in shape, while also working on her skills. She intends to join the national karate team once they go to an overseas camp, likely in Portugal or Turkey.
Despite the less than ideal situation, Orbon says she believes she can snatch one of the three Olympic berths at stake in the final qualifiers in June.
"I think I'll do well. Honestly, I've been in this league, I fought all the women that are already qualified for the Olympics," she said.
"I am at their level," Orbon declared. "If anything, I'm at the level that I should be in."
"So it's only just a few players here and there that might give me a bit of a challenge," she added. "But for the most part, if I am prepared, at a hundred percent, if I have the support of the Philippines, then I have nothing to be worried about."
Karate is being contested in the Olympics for the first time. Aside from Orbon, also hoping to earn slots to the Tokyo Games are SEA Games gold medalists Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim.