Fil-Japanese Junna Tsukii is hoping to inspire more karatedo athletes following her gold-medal conquest in the Karatedo World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tsukii, who was granted a P500,000 cash incentive by the Philippine Olympic Committee for her feat, said she hopes to inspire a new generation of athletes to do their best in the sport.
“I hope this is just the beginning of everything for our karate future,” said Tsukii after she was honored on Saturday evening by officials of POC, the Philippine Sports Commission and Karate Pilipinas in a simple thanksgiving gathering at the Joy Nostalg Hotel in Ortigas Center.
“Before I got this medal, many times I cried. But I hope everything’s working [out]. I hope there’s a new generation (of karatekas), who will get more (medals) than me. I don’t want to think that this is the only one,” added Tsukii.
POC president Abraham Tolentino said they were inspired to extend incentives to Tsukii because of her great showing.
“Our incentives were only meant for the SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics. But realizing what you won in the World Games, hindi ka namin natiis sa POC. So we decided to give something,” said Tolentino, who was present with newly appointed PSC Commissioner Bong Coo.
The 30-year-old Tsukii, who will be honored by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacanang this week, leaves for Tokyo by August to prepare for her next competitions.
She will start joining Premier League meets in Baku, Azerbaijan in September, before heading to Los Angeles in October and Kazakhstan in December for more karate tournaments.
“I hope more medals will come next week, and the next generation will follow,” added Tsukii.
It was an emotional victory for Tsukii following her gold-medal victory in the -50 kg category in the kumite competitions of the Karatedo World Games.
A change in format, from an elimination-round knockout system to a round-robin one, boosted Tsukii’s chances of making a podium finish.
She had faced most of her rivals in the past like Venezuelan Yorgelis Salazar and Miyo Miyahara, who bagged the silver and bronze medals.
But once she lost to them in the past, Tsukii no longer had a chance to get medals.
But this time around, the round-robin format gave her high hopes of advancing.
Karate Philippines chief Richard Lim said they laud and congratulate Tsukii for holding her own against the world’s top 10 in the sport.