Junna Tsukii boosts Olympic chances with gold in Portugal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2021 05:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina karateka Junna Tsukii reached a personal milestone yesterday when she won gold in the Karate Premier League in Lisbon, Portugal.

Tsukii ruled the -50kg kumite event, overcoming Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan for her first-ever gold medal in the Premier League.

According to the website of the World Karate Federation, a roundhouse kick gave Tsukii a 2-0 victory.

The Filipina, a gold medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, expressed her pride in her achievement on her Facebook account where she showed off the mint.

 

"Look at my first gold medal on the world caliber stage," said Tsukii. "I would like to thank everyone who has supported me to this point."

Tsukii remains in the hunt for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics, as she currently ranks 15th in the WKF Olympic Standings. Should she miss out on a berth via the rankings, Tsukii can still make it through the World Olympic Qualification Tournament, scheduled for June in Paris.

Before the final, Tsukii told the WKF website that she was excited for the Premier League after missing out on competitions last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I have been waiting for this moment for over a year," she said. "My matches here were very difficult. You can tell that the top karatekas in the world are here."

En route to the final, Tsukii defeated Colombia's Daniela Gallego (10-2) and Iran's Sara Bahmanyar, who is at No. 6 in the Olympic rankings (2-1).

She then pulled off an upset of French karateka Alexandra Recchia, a two-time world champion, in the semifinals.