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PH hoping 3 judokas make Olympic grade

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There could as many as three qualifiers to the Tokyo Olympics in judo.

Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter said this could happen, with a month remaining before the official cutoff imposed by the International Judo Federation.

Filipino-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, who is already assured of a slot to the Tokyo Olympics, is on the last leg of her campaign to improve on her Olympic rankings.

Kiyomi Watanabe
Kiyomi Watanabe

If the 24-year-old Watanabe comes up with a convincing performance in the World Senior Championships on June 6, she could give the Nakano twins Keishei and Shugen a fighting chance.

“We now have three aspirants to the qualifiers. They are going next week to Budapest. Maganda iyun, because that’s the  final qualifying event for the Olympics,” said Carter.

So far, Watanabe has already made the cut after placing fifth in the women’s -63 kgs class of the Asia Oceania senior championships last April 6.

This gave her a qualification slot through the  continental quota system, based on the current Olympic rankings of the International Judo Federation.

The 5’7” Watanabe is now currently ranked at no. 38 following the event in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

This placed Watanabe at no. 9 in the Asia Oceania rank and is among the top 10 Asians listed so far.

Keisei, who has joined five tournaments this year, placed seventh in the Asian Oceania seniors last April in the men’s -73 kg category, putting him at no. 76 with 609 points.

On the other hand, Shugen did not earn points in the five meets that he joined and is at 110th place in the men’s -66 kg division.

The IJF  has set  a limit of one of entry per country that has already bagged one qualification seat.

Should Watanabe improve further, she could earn direct qualification, thereby giving the Philippines additional seats via the continental quota system.

Carter said they are now waiting for a formal announcement from the IJF before they formally proclaim Watanabe as a direct entry to the Olympics.

 According to the rules, each country is subject to a limit of one judoka per division.

The top 18 athletes in each division directly qualify, though each NOC is subjected to a limit of one judoka per division.

If an NOC contains more than a single athlete ranked in the top 18 of the world ranking list, the NOC can decide which of their athletes obtain the quota places.

Further continental quotas—13 men and 12 women for Europe, 12 of each gender for Africa, 10 men and 11 women for Pan America, 10 of each gender for Asia, and 5 of each gender for Oceania — are also available.

As for the women’s -63 kg class,  among those who have made it ahead of Watanabe are  Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, who is the leading qualifier.

Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia is listed, followed by Miko Tashiro of Japan and Andreja Leski of Slovenia.

So far, there are four Japanese judokas listed ahead of Watanabe and many other aspirants. Cuts will be made due to limitations that were imposed.


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