Tsukii seizes kumite Gold, focuses on making Olympics next
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.
“[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.”
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.”