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Silver lining

Faced with tough competition Watanabe rises to improve her finish and score PH’s first runner-up finish
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:50 AM August 31, 2018

JAKARTA—Kiyomi Watanabe ran smack into a superior Japanese enemy Thursday night and settled for second in the 18th Asian Games’ judo competition for women in the 63-kilogram class to give the Philippine campaign here its first silver medal and continue to improve on its last performance.

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“I was very nervous, I faced a strong player in this competition,” the 22-year-old Watanabe, born in Cebu to a Filipino mother but raised in Japan, said through an interpreter at Gelora Bung Karno’s Jakarta Convention Center. “It’s a very strong field.”

Watanabe lost by ippon after a second waza-ari by world No. 3 Nami Nabekura with 1:53 left in the final, as the Philippines’ medal haul was jacked up to 4-1-13 (gold, silver, bronze) for 17th overall at press time.

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China still leads this 45-nation meet with 230 medals in total, counting 108 golds, with host Indonesia the best-placed Southeast Asian country at fourth overall with 30-22-37.

“A [silver] medal is OK,” Watanabe, who is ranked 19th in the world, said. “I was just very nervous in the last match. Coming to this tournament, we had a game plan, but I was just so nervous I could not execute.”

In other judo bouts, Filipino Mariya Takahashi lost to Mongolia’s Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush in the 70-kg division’s repechage and missing out on a bronze.

Also eliminated were Megumi Kurayoshi in the women’s 57-kg, and Keisei Nagano, who bowed out of the men’s 73-kg division after losing by ippon to Mohammad Mohammadi Barimanlou of Iran with 55 seconds left.

Watanabe, who is a sports science student in Japan, was seventh in the same division in the 2014 Games in Incheon.

Nabekura is the reigning two-time Grand Prix champion. She was also a former junior world champion, winning the event in 2015.

Meanwhile, triathlon also gets going with the men’s and women’s team facing world-class competition and looking to surprise the continent. Nikko Huelgas and Kim Mangrobang will lead the Filipinos.

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“With her present form, a top-five finish is not far-fetched,” coach Ani de Leon-Brown said of Mangrobang. “If she can step up her game, a podium finish is very possible.”

Huelgas, a two-time SEA Games champ, and John Chicano are also raring to plunge into action.

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TAGS: 18th Asian Games, Judo, Kiyomi Watanabe, silver medal
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