After months of preparation, the karatedo national team is all set to slug it out against the best in the world in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) on June 11 to 14 in Paris, France.
Six members of the Philippine team, including Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist Jamie Lim, were in a training camp in Turkey for nearly three months to get themselves ready for the OQT.
Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii, who also won a SEA Games gold medal and No. 8 ranked athlete of the World Karate Federation (WKF), trained in Japan and in Serbia for months.
Lim, as well as Joanne Orbon, who also trained in the US, Ivan Agustin, Shariff Afif, Alwyn Batican and Jason Macaalay arrived Monday night in Paris with Richard Lim, president of the Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation Inc.
“Right now we’re in a quarantine, we’ll be staying here for 10 (days),” said Lim in an interview with Manila Bulletin Tuesday, June 1. “Our athletes do have a training area, so they’re still working even in quarantine.”
Tsukii, according to Lim, will be arriving in Paris on June 8.
The team will have their PCR test on June 9, which will be submitted when they register for the competition on June 10, or a day before the start of the OQT for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Lim said the six athletes are recovering from what he called a “strenuous” training camp in Turkey, which included scrimmages for Lim and Orbon against men counterparts.
“We’ve done our very best for them, the athletes. I think we’ve done enough. The preparation was very good. Will they get tired during the competition? I don’t think so. All of them are in very excellent condition,” said Lim.
“Skills wise they have that because they’ve played against the best in Turkey training camp. So they’re ready to go up to seven bouts to make it to the top three and make the Tokyo Olympics.”
According to Lim, participants in the OQT will have to go through the preliminary matches, and the best finishers per pool will advance in the semifinal round, which is round robin elimination.
Only the top three athletes will earn Tokyo Olympic berths.
So far, only five spots are assured per category in the Games through ranking of WKF. The three other spots (sixth to eighth) will be determined in the OQT, while the remaining two will come separately from the continental qualifying meets and via a wild card entry.
Lim said the women’s trio of Tsukii, Lim and Orbon – which he called the “Three Js” – have a very good chance of earning spots.
“I’m looking at Junna, she has a good chance. Also for Jamie and Joanne, they’re doing very good in our training camp. So let’s see, there are good days and there are bad days. It’s up to God – hope He answers our prayers.”
“But now I’m pretty confident they can do it, I’ve never felt this good.”
Meanwhile, Lim said that kata participants John Enrico Vasquez and Sarah Pangilinan are arriving in Paris in a few days for the OQT. Pangilinan is coming from Japan, while Vasquez will fly from Manila.