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Tsukii seizes kumite Gold, focuses on making Olympics next

/ 04:00 AM December 08, 2019

DECEMBER 7, 2019: Philippines’ Junna Tsukii (red) goes up against Vietnam’s Dinh Thi Huong (blue) during the women’s final Karatedo-50 kg of the 30th South East Asian Games 2019. INQUIRER PHOTO/ Sherwin Vardeleon

Junna Tsukii already knew in the quarterfinal round that she’d deliver a gold for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games’ women’s kumite event.

Her round-of-eight foe, after all, was Paween Raksachart, the woman who shut the door on her gold medal bid in the biennial meet two years ago.

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“[I knew] if I didn’t beat her, I can’t go to the Final,” she told reporters shortly after her gilded performance on Saturday at World Trade Center in Pasay.

Tsukii knew a win over her old tormentor would give her a big boost. So much so that when she was asked if she would win her last fight of the day, she answered: “Of course.”

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It didn’t take long to prove herself right.

The 28-year-old karateka was aggressive right from the opening bell and swiftly scored a point against Vietnam’s Dinh Thi Huong. It was all that she needed to claim the crown in the women’s -50 kumite.

The only thing more palpable than her dominance of the field was the relish with which she attacked every opponent, much to the delight of a roaring crowd.

“The first time I competed [in the SEA Games], I was stiff,” she said. “Today was just about having fun. I wanted to make people happy.”

Tsukii, since winning the bronze in the Asian Games last year, has collected three more from the international competitions and has set a bigger goal she for herself: the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, where karatedo makes its first-ever appearance.

“I prepared a long time for a gold. I [went] to other countries … trained here,” she said.

“I feel like I got good experience now,” Tsukii said. “Next month is going to be about the Olympics.”

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TAGS: Junna Tsukii, SEA Games 2019, Sports, women’s kumite
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