JUNNA TSUKII has been pacing herself excellently—winning a second gold medal this time in Portugal in a five-week span—for the Tokyo Olympics karate qualifier which Paris is hosting from June 11 to 13.
No less than Karate Pilipinas President Richard Lim believes Tsukii could conquer Paris and proceed to Tokyo were karate is making its Olympic debut.
“I can see her winning in Paris,” Lim said in an online chat with BusinessMirror from the national team training camp in Istanbul on Monday night. “Her confidence is her biggest edge to reach the Olympics. She has total control of her game—confident and relaxed.”
Tsukii beat Kazakhstan’s Moldir Zhangbyrbay, 2-0, in the female -50 kg kumite final at the First Karate Premier League in Lisbon, her second gold medal after the mint she bagged at the International Golden Belt tournament in Cacak, Serbia, last March 27
To qualify for Tokyo, Tsukii must either emerge as the No. 1 ranked karateka in Asia in her weight class or finish in the top three in the Paris qualifier—she is zeroing in on both, whichever comes first.
The 29-year-old Filipino-Japanese who was born in Pasay City, is currently No. 3 in Asia with 3742.50 points. Iran’s Sara Bahmanyar (5677.50) and China’s Ranran Li of China (4950) are 1-2 in the continent.
“Look at my first gold medal on the world caliber stage,” Tsukii posted by on her Facebook account. “I would like to thank everyone who has supported me to this point. This medal is for you.”
Tsukii beat Colombia’s Daniela Gallego (10-2) in the first round, Iran’s Sara Bahmanyar (2-1) in the second round and drew with Radwa Sayed of Egypt (1-1) but tallied more flags (3-2) to reach the semifinals where she eliminated two-time world champion Alexandra Rechhhia (2-0) of France.
Tsukii, who is trained by her dad Shihan Shin, is expected to proceed to Istanbul to join her teammates preparing for the Paris qualifier.