Judo could also be a source of gold medals when Team Philippines competes in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that opens on November 30 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Philippine Judo Federation President Dave Carter said they are confident to win at least four gold medals, especially now that Kiyomi Watanabe and the rest of the team are all in great fighting condition.
The 23-year-old Watanabe is a bright gold medal potential.
She has won the mint in the women’s -63kg class in the Naypyitaw, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur editions of the meet and is all primed to clinch a spot in the Tokyo Olympics next year.
In fact, she is already at No. 23 in the world ranking and just needs to figure prominently in various international competitions to maintain her status inside the top 26 until the cut-off in May next year.
Aside from Watanabe, Carter is also pinning his hopes on Mariya Takahashi, Heisi Nakano, Shugen Nakano,Shin Matsumura and Riyoko Salinas.
“The national judo team is ready—not just for the SEA Games, but also for the Olympics,” Carter said, adding that the Philippine Sports Commission has been generous in providing everything they need.
“The Philippine Sports Commission has been helping us get quality trainings and exposures because they know that we’re not just preparing for the SEA Games, but for the Olympics as well.”
The production of the Filipino judokas in the previous biennial meets was hardly felt.
In the Naypyitaw and Singapore SEA Games, only Watanabe emerged with a gold before Takahashi joined her on top of the medal podium in the previous biennial meet in Kuala Lumpur.
This time, Carter is optimistic.
With the PSC as the sponsor, Carter sent the squad to various Grand Slam, Word Championships and Grand Prix tourneys around the world with the latest being held in Osaka from 22 to 24 November.
“We’re thankful to the PSC for providing everything we need,” Carter said.
“The Osaka Grand Slam is just perfect because it would be held one week before the SEA Games. The top athletes from Thailand and Indonesia would also be there so it’s going to be a good tournament for us,” he added.