Junna Tsukii suffers early exit in karate OQT

Published June 11, 2021, 10:18 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Junna Tsukii

Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist Junna Tsukii failed on her quest to clinch a spot in the Tokyo Olympics after a 2-1 defeat to Ivet Goranova of Bulgaria in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) Friday morning (Friday night in Manila) in Paris, France.

Tsukii, who had training camps in Japan and in Serbia for several months in preparation for this OQT, earned a bye in the first round of Pool 1 in the -55kilogram women’s kumite category.

She lost to a more seasoned opponent in Goranova, a bronze medalist in the 2018 World Championship and a silver medal winner in the European Games two years ago.

The 29-year-old Tsukii had a chance to still make it through the repechage, but Goranova was denied in the finals of Pool 1 as she suffered a 5-1 defeat to Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan.

Participants should go through the preliminary matches, and the best finishers per pool will advance in the semifinal round, which is a round robin elimination.

Only the top three athletes will earn Tokyo Olympic berths.

Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation Inc. president Richard Lim said Tsukii – bronze medal winner in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia – still has a shot of making it to the Tokyo Olympics.

“We’ll wait for the continental quota for Junna and the Asian OQT,” said Lim in a message to Manila Bulletin.

Five more athletes are set to see action in the OQT, including Jamie Lim, Fil-Am Joanne Orbon, Ivan Agustin, Shariff Afif, Alwyn Batican and Jason Macaalay for the kumite category.