Time to smoothen Olympic wrinkle
Philippine Karatedo saw a vast improvement in its showing in the Southeast Asian Games after tabbing two gold medals courtesy of fighters Junna Tsukii and Jamie Lim.
They also provided a lot of postmatch color among all Philippine athletes, with Tsukii going to social media to air her frustrations over how she was treated by coach Okay Arpa, and Lim coming up with the quote of the Games: “the summa [cum laude honor] was for mom, the [SEA Games] gold is for dad.”
Within the golden performances of the two karatekas were a silver and nine bronze medals across 13 events, a feat Turkish coach Arpa helped script.
Norman Montalvo settled for the lone silver in the first day of the contests, but nevertheless, signaled that the Philippine bid was indeed, already on the right track on its drive for medals.
Five of the bronzes were from kumite, while two pairs came from individual and team kata events, respectively.
“I wrote down ‘two gold medals’ in the forecast report to [Philippine Sports Commission] Chair [William] ‘Butch’ Ramirez,” federation president Ricky Lim told the Inquirer. “That’s what I really expected.”
“What I didn’t expect, though, was that nearly everybody would end up getting a medal.” Lim added.
In the 2017 SEA Games, the Philippines was only able to grab seven medals, three silvers and four bronzes.
This year’s medals are undeniably emblematic of the significant strides made by Karate Pilipinas Inc., which in November 2018 officially replaced the embattled Philippine Karatedo Federation.
But bubbling under is a rift between Arpa and the country’s golden girl, Tsukii, who is embroiled in a supposed bullying drama.
Arpa has told the Inquirer he will be speaking up on the matter once the Games conclude.
“I’ve talked to both already,” Lim said. “They are both not fluent in speaking in English.”
“One says something, and then the other interprets it differently. It’s totally a misunderstanding.”
Lim, though, is confident that Tsukii, regarded as one of the top bets in the sport to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and Arpa, a former world champion, will iron things out.
“It’s just like a fight between a father and his child,” Lim said. “We really need them both. And they have to be one [unit] as they’re both very important [for us].”