Fil-Japanese judoka charmed No. 13 in Rio team
RIO DE JANEIRO–Unacclaimed Filipino-Japanese judoka Kodo Nakano dropped everything when he received the out-of-the-blue call.
The excited man at the other end of the line was Dave Carter, chief of the national judo federation. The pleasant news: He has been included in the Rio Olympics’ final roster of entries in the 81 kg class.
What he failed to nail in the Olympic qualfiers, Nakano achieved without pulling the leg and jersey of a foe.
The International Judo Federation invited Nakano, son of a modest Tokyo businessman and his Filipino wife, to compete here in place of an Iranian qualifier who reportedly was unable to recover fully from a recent injury.
Nakano thus became the charmed 13th member of the tiny Philippine delegation to this 31st Summer Games, a “welcome addition” following the dubious withdrawals of golfers Angelo Que and Dottie Ardina due to the threat of the virulent mosquito-borne Zika virus.
“His name and passport details had long been submitted to the Olympic sport entries department,” said Joey Romasanta, the country’s chief of mission here.
“He was in the long list but he failed to qualify. Now they (judo’s IF) have issued him his credentials.”
Nakano joined hurdler Eric Cray, long jumper Marestella Torres-Sunang, marathon Mary Joy Tabal, golfer Miguel Tabuena, taekwondo-jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, lifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colinia, swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Lacuna, table netter Ian Larriba and boxers Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon on the PH team, four of whom are plunging into action the morning after Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Nakano, who vied in the 2013 world championships, also in Rio, landed a silver medal in the 2013 Southeast Asian championships in Burma (Myanmar). He is expected in Rio either tomorrow or Friday still groggy from a 23-hour flight ordeal from Manila.
“He should be ready,” said Romasanta. “What we’re worried about is the jetlag factor.”
Nakano gets going on Aug. 9.
“He’a a very welcome addition to the team,” said the mission chief. “If only Que and Ardina would have a change of heart.”/rga
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