Kiyomi Watanabe boosted her chances for an Olympic slot following a stellar performance in the Asia-Oceania Senior Championships in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The 25-year old Filipino-Japanese judoka settled for fifth place in the women’s -63kg to improve gain valuable ranking points and improve her chances of making it to the Summer Games in Tokyo this July.
Watanabe displayed a strong performance in the preliminary stage as she ousted Unnati Sharma of India and Pei Chun Yuan of Chinese Taipei.
The 18th Asian Games silver medalist, however, fell prey to Hee Ju Han of South Korea in the semifinals followed by another loss to Mokhee Cho also of South Korea in the bronze medal match.
Still, it was an impressive performance for Watanabe, who has yet to join any international competition since the coronavirus pandemic had an outbreak last year.
Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter said Watanabe’s performance gave her additional ranking points that would be needed to secure continental quota.
Right now, she is seated at No. 40 with 1254 ranking points. She is tipped to increase her chances by joining and winning in more qualifying tourneys until the cut-off in June.
“Kiyomi’s performance will surely lead her to gaining more points and will help her in improving her ranking,” Carter, a board member of the Philippine Olympic Committee, said.
“Since she’s currently 40th, she can step up to 38th or 39th once the Olympic rankings have been updated.”
Aside from Watanabe, fellow Olympic hopefuls Keisei Nakano also placed seventh in the 73kg men’s division, while Shugen Nakano suffered an early exit in the men’s 66kg category.