SEA Games: Filipino bets Watanabe, Nakano capture judo golds
NEW CLARK CITY — Kiyomi Watanabe and Shugen Nakano pinned down the golds expected of them Thursday night to power the Philippines in the judo competitions of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Watanabe, 21, retained the crown in the female 63-kilogram division, scoring ippon wins along the way — the exact same way she won two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
But before that, Nakano claimed the first gold for the country in judo, annexing the men’s -66kg before cheering crowd at Laus Group Events in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Gilbert Ramirez settled for silver in the 81kg.
Nakano’s twin brother Keisei snagged the bronze in 73kg, while Khrizzie Pabulayan came away with third place honors in the women’s -55kg.
The win is expected to further boost Watanabe’s world ranking which was pegged at No. 24 in the world. The top 32 by next May will make it to the Tokyo Olympics.
Watanabe was born in Cebu City but was raised in Honsu, Japan by Filipina mother Irene and Japanese father Jinero.
Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter had earlier said they are expecting five golds from the sport.