MANILA, Aug. 9 -- The Philippine Karatedo Federation is sending 13 athletes to the forthcoming 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
These athletes are currently attending a 20-day training camp in Germany's western-central state of Hessen where they are expected to further hone their skills and boost their chances of winning medals in the biennial tournament, to be hosted by Malaysia for the sixth time.
One of the medal contenders is Filipino-Japanese Junna Tsukii, whose father Shin Tsukii served as foreign coach of the national team many years ago.
"I only want to win a gold medal," said the 25-year-old athlete during an online interview before the team left for Germany last July 26. She is entered in the women's kumite -50 kg. event.
"I am happy to be a member of the national team. I want to work hard for the country and the team," added Tsukii, who was born in Pasay City. She moved to Japan at the age of three and studied there from grade school to university. She finished international studies at the Takushoko University.
"I live in the Philippines now. I am currently teaching karate to kids," said Tsukii, who has two sisters and three brothers.
Tsukii joined the national team only this year although she has competed and won medals in competitions abroad, representing Japan.
This year, she won the gold medal in the Thailand Open Karatedo Championships (April), the bronze in the US Open and Junior International Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada (March), and a gold and a bronze in the Canada Open Karate Championships (June).
In 2016, Tsukii bagged the silver medal at the 10th Polish Open International Karate Grand Prix in Bielsko, Poland. Tsukii pocketed the gold medal at the 29th Yoshida Cup International Karate Invitational in Portland, Oregon in 2015. She clinched the gold at the 6th World Gojukai Karate-do Championship in India in 2013.
Also competing in the SEA Games, which will be held on Aug. 19-30, are Miyuki Tacay, Mae Soriano, Erica Celine Samonte, Kimverly Madrona, Jayson Ramil Macaalay, John Michael Vincent Badil, John Paul Bejar, Rexor Tacay, Sharief Afif, Carmelo Patricio Jr., Enegen Stoner Dagohoy, and Orencio James Delos Santos. The officials are Raymund Reyes (team manager), Ali Parvinfar, David Lay Jr., Rommel Raymundo (coaches), and Reiner Ryan de Leon (assistant coach).
Macaalay, 25, won the gold medal in the men's individual -60 kg. event and the silver in the team event in the Thailand Open last April. A total of 16 gold medals are at stake in the karatedo competition, to be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC) on August 22-24. (PNA)