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Fil-Japanese wants nothing but a gold medal

KUALA LUMPUR – A former member of the Japanese national team is making her debut playing for the national flag in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

Junna Tsukii, a 26-year-old karateka whose mother is a Filipina, will compete in the -50 kilogram division of the kumite where she ranks among the favourites.

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Tsukii, a second dan karate blackbelter, is a five-time All-Japan champion with an extensive international experience. She is the daughter of Shin Tsukii who served as coach of the national team 20 years ago.

“I want only gold,” said Tsukii who was born in Pasay and moved to Japan when she was three years old. “My father convinced me to play for the country of my birth.”

Tsukii said she would have played for Japan if not for the injuries she suffered.

She said she was out of action for most of 2015 because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on her right knee.

Tsukii said she achieved full rehabilitation last year and made her presence felt by taking the silver medal at the 10th Polish Open International Karate Grand Prix in Bielsko, Poland.

This year has been short of phenomenal for Tsukii who now teaches karate to Japanese children in Manila.

In April, Tsukii took the bronze medal in the US Open and captured the gold in the Thailand Open karate championships.

She won the gold in the Canadian Open in June.

Action in karate starts on Tuesday with Tsukii seeing action starting at 11 a.m. at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center Hall 1.

The other karatekas in action are Jayson Ramil Macaalay in the men’s kumite -60 kg, Miyuki Tacay in the women’s kumite +68 kg and Rexor Tacay in the men’s kumite -67 kg.

The team is fresh from a 20-day training camp in Belgium, Germany and Amsterdam, according to team manager Raymund Reyes.

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