Unbreakable will be the key to Watanabe’s gold; Saso and Pagdanganan book tickets to Tokyo

Yuka Saso (left) and Bianca Pagdanganan are officially on the list of Filipino gold hunters in Tokyo. —AFP

Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe dislocated her left elbow at a tournament in Germany early last year. But in less than three weeks, the Filipino-Japanese was on his feet, doing push-ups, pull-ups and lifting weights as if the injury had never happened.

“This is how strong Kiyomi’s fighting spirit is. Fortunately it was not a divide, ” Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter said at the Philippine Sports Journalists Association Forum on Tuesday.

It will be virtually the same strength of character that Watanabe, who was born in Cebu and now based in Japan, will bring to the mat in the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“She has a big heart. Kiyomi winning a medal for us is possible. She might surprise us during the Games, ” Carter said in the weekly forum sponsored by Smart / PLDT, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Go For Gold, Milo, Braska, Amelie Hotel and San Miguel Corp.

Meanwhile, golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan have officially qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, bringing the Philippine delegation to 17 athletes.

Top 60

The two secured places at the Games after placing in the top 60 in the Olympic golf rankings. Saso is at No.9 after winning the US Women’s Open title earlier this month, while Pagdanganan, who also turned heads during her rookie year in the Ladies Professional Golf Association, is at n ° 42.

The Philippines now has three golfers competing in Tokyo, Pagdanganan and Saso joining Juvic Pagunsan.

Watanabe, 23, Asian Games silver medalist in the women’s 63 kilograms category and reigning four-time Southeast Asian Games champion qualified with a continental quota awarded by the International Judo Federation, becoming the first Filipino judoka at the Olympics.

Watanabe must reach the quarter-finals to try for a medal. To win gold, she must win five to six games.

On Watanabe’s path to winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal are France’s Clarisse Agbegnenou, world title holder, Slovenian Tina Trstenjak, Germany’s Martyna Trajdos, Japanese Tashiro Miku and the 2018 Asian Games champion. Nami Nabekura also from the host country.

—With reports from Mark Giongco INQ

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