After dominating foes, Watanabe, Didal set sights on Tokyo 2020
After conquering the Southeast Asian Games on Thursday, Kiyomi Watanabe and Margielyn Didal can now train their focus on qualifying for the Olympics next year.
Watanabe, 21, scored two victories in a three-athlete round-robin to retain her -63-kilogram judo crown at Laus Group Events in San Fernando, Pampanga. The Asian Games silver medalist won her two bouts via ippon fashion, underscoring her dominance in the region.
Didal, meanwhile, competed pressure-free in Game of SKATE at Sigtuna Hall in chilly Tagaytay. She made the finals opposite teammate Christiana Means, thereby assuring the Philippines of a gold medal in the event.
And she hopes their 1-2 finish becomes a statement of sorts.
“We have to wake up,” Didal said. “It’s just the first event in skateboarding and we already have three medals. We don’t even have skate parks. Can you imagine if we have facilities, I’m sure there will be more medals to come.” The other medal was a gold courtesy of Daniel Ledermann in the men’s side.
The 20-year-old Didal also promised this won’t be the last gold for the skateboarding team. She is set to compete in her pet street event, where she won an Asian Games gold.
“Expect more medals [from us],” Didal added.
Both Watanabe and Didal—both Cebu-born athletes—are being counted on to boost the number of Filipinos who will compete in the Tokyo Olympics next year. Gymnast Carlos Yulo, a world champion, already booked a berth to the Summer Games along with pole vaulter EJ Obiena. Still looking to qualify, but are expected to make it to Tokyo, are Didal, Watanabe and reigning Asian and Southeast Asian champion Hidilyn Diaz, a silver medalist in the Rio Olympiad.
Ledermann survived a stiff challenge from Basral Hutomo from Indonesia in the finals to rule the men’s division.
Ledermann earlier bested Nguyen Tiong Son of Vietnam in the semifinals.
The 12-year-old Hutomo, who eliminated Jeffrey Gonzales in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, pushed Ledermann within two mistakes from elimination.
But the Filipino bounced back with a 360-front side shove-it and a laser flip to seal the gold before a big crowd that included Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
Shugen Nakano also scored a gold in judo, annexing the men’s -66-kg title.
Philippine Judo Federation president David Carter had earlier said they are expecting to win five gold medals.