Karatekas in Baguio bubble gearing up for Dubai Worlds
Confined in a bubble in high-altitude Baguio City, the Philippine karatedo team is busy preparing for a hectic calendar in the next several months.
First up for them is the World Karate Federation Senior World Championships in Dubai on Nov. 16-21, where Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii is assured of seeing action, before the national karatekas take part in the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games (Aimag) early next year and the Southeast Asian Games.
Karate Pilipinas president Richard Lim said 11 karatekas have already camped at a Philippine Sports Commission-controlled training facility along with their five coaches as they gear up for these tournaments.
Like Tsukii, Southeast Asian Games champion Jamie Lim and Filipino-American Joane Orbon will enter the bubble this weekend.
“We are preparing for the World Championships, but we don’t know how many we can bring there,’’ said Lim, also the chef de mission of Team Philippines to the Aimag in Thailand scheduled on March 10-20.
The reason why Tsukii is the only bet available for Dubai is that, according to Lim, national karatedo Turkish coach Okay Arpa has advised him against sending fighters who are ill-prepared to mix it up in the worlds.
“Coach Okay believes that if the timing and distance of our athletes are off, there’s no point in bringing the team there,’’ said Lim.
The Japan-based Tsukii is assured of competing in the world champs because of her uninterrupted training and competitions overseas.
After their Olympic qualifying tournament last June in Paris, the team also made up of Ivan Agustin, Sharif Afif, Alwyn Batican and Jason Macaalay paused for training over the next three months.
“Of course we will try [to bring a team to the World Championships]. Our training was delayed by three months,’’ said Lim.
He pointed out that the coaches will evaluate the progress of each athlete inside the bubble and form the lineup for the Dubai worlds with only potential winners earning their spots. INQ