KUALA LUMPUR – After bursting into the limelight with a golden performance, rising star Mariya Takahashi will be shooting for the next big thing – a slot in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The 16-year-old Filipino-Japanese will be the second judoka to be groomed for the Summer Games after winning the gold medal in the women’s -70 kg event of the 29th Southeast Asian Games judo competition Sunday here.
The other one is 21-year-old Kiyomi Watanabe, who punched her third SEA Games gold medal after ruling the women’s -63 kg class.
According to Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter, they have already reached out to Takahashi’s parents about the possibility of grooming her for the Olympiad.
Takahashi proved that she deserves it after dominating Nguyen Thi Dien of Vietnam en route to a golden finish in her first stint in the biennial meet.
“She is also our brightest bet in the 2019 SEA Games all the way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” said Carter.
Aside from all-out support from her federation, the Philippine Sports Commission also expressed its commitment to back her training, while the Philippine Olympic Committee would recommend her for an athletic scholarship program, where she would be entitled to a $500 monthly allowance.