SEAG medalists Tsukii, Lim banner PH squad in world tilt


Posted at Oct 26 2021 03:55 PM

Filipina karateka Junna Tsukii will compete in the world championships in Dubai
Filipina karateka Junna Tsukii will compete in the world championships in Dubai

MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina karateka Junna Tsukii banners a four-man Philippine karate team bound for the world championships in Dubai next month.

Tsukii, currently ranked No. 2 in her division, will be joined by fellow 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jamie Lim in the event set for November 16-21 at the Hamdam Sports Complex. 

Also set to represent the Philippines are kata stalwarts Sarah Pangilinan and Joco Vasquez.

Tsukii, 30, will compete in the women's kumite 50kg class, where she won a gold in the SEA Games two years ago as well as a bronze in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. 

Lim, meanwhile, will take part in the -61kg division after previously joining the +61kg category.

Pangilinan and Vazquez are in the women's and men's individual kata. 

All four previously saw action in the last Olympic qualifier held in Paris, France.

Due to the pandemic and the subsequent lack of funds, Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation president Richard Lim said the national team is only sending the Filipino quartet in the world meet who they believe has a strong chance of winning.

"We really try to send who we feel has the greater chance of winning for now, kasi eventually we have to expose everybody. This is the highest form of championship, so we're really sending the best para siguraduhin na merong patutunguhan 'yung pinaghihirapan namin," said Lim.

Lim and Vasquez are currently training with 13 other national athletes under a bubble set-up in Baguio City under Turkish coach Okay Arpa, while Tsukii and Pangilinan are preparing in Serbia and Japan, respectively.

The president of the federation considers the Filipino-Japanese Tsukii as the country's best bet to land a podium finish in the world championships.

"We all know naman that Junna is almost competing every month, so she has the experience, the mental awareness to control the game. She has everything already. She has matured so much because of her experiences," said Lim.

"I would say that her chances of winning in this world championship are so high," he added. "But of course, I really want all of them to win not only for themselves and for the federation, but for the country."

The team leaves on November 11 for the Dubai tournament that will be held under a bubble format.

After the World Championship, up next for the national team is the Asian Karate Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan in December, followed by the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in May, and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September.