MANILA – Eight athletes, led by World Games champion Junna Tsukii, make up the Philippine karate team set to compete at the 19th Asian Games from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 in Hangzhou, China.
The Japan-based Tsukii ruled the women's kumite -50kg category at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama last year, making her the second Filipino to win the gold medal after billiards player Carlo Biado topped the 9-ball men’s singles event in the 2017 edition in Wroclaw, Poland.
Also in the line-up are Cambodia SEA Games gold medalists Jamie Christine Lim (women kumite -61kg) and Sakura Alforte (women's individual kata), and silver medalists Arianne Isabel Brito (women's +68kg), John Matthew Manantan (men's -67kg) and Ivan Christopher Agustin (men's kumite -84kg), and John Christian Lachica (men's kumite -60kg) and Alwyn Batican (men's kumite -75kg).
Tsukii is training in Japan while Lim, Batican, Brito, Lachica and Manantan are in Turkiye with Filipino coach Junel Perenia and foreign coach Levent Aydemir.
"Everything is fine, we're following the program in our training camp here," Aydemir told the Philippine News Agency in an online interview on Thursday.
"We're focusing on attack and score protection," added Aydemir, who coached the Turkiye national team from 2009 to 2022.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Turkey won four karateka medals – one silver from Eray Samdan (men's kumite -67kg) and three bronzes courtesy of Ugur Aktas (men's kumite +75kg), Ali Sofuoglu (men's kata), and Merve Coban (women's -61kg).
Perania, on the other hand, is an Asian Karate Federation licensed coach. He was a former team captain of the national team, winning the silver in the 2001 SEA Games.
He won the gold in the 2001 Hong Kong Asian Invitational Championship and the 2019 World Police and Fire Games. He is the head coach of the Philippine National Police karate team.
Aside from the training camp, the national karatekas who arrived in Istanbul on Aug. 10 are joining tournaments there. They will return to Manila on Sept. 24.
The karate competition at the Asian Games will be held from Oct. 5 to 7 at the Hangzhou Linping Sports Centre Gymnasium.
The national team also trained in Turkiye last April in preparation for the Cambodia SEA Games. (PNA)