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PH judokas back in training in Japan


By Nick Giongco



Japanese coach Yuta Yazaki presides over the workout of Fil-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe in Tokyo. (PJF photo)

Japanese coach Yuta Yazaki presides over the workout of Fil-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe in Tokyo. (PJF photo)

As Filipino Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls struggle to keep in shape on home soil owing to the pandemic, the Japan-based judokas are back on training mode, the Philippine Judo Federation (PJF) leadership said yesterday.

“Those who are in Japan are training more freely,” said PJF President Dave Carter. They can even run on the streets, track oval, etc. as long as they observe social distancing.”

Of course, the situation is the exact opposite in the country where the athletes have yet to be allowed to go outdoors and resume their training as per the advise of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Carter said 2018 Asian Games silver medalist and four-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe Kiyoi Watanabe is neck-deep in training under the tutelage of coach Yuta Yazaki in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Watanabe, 23, is a top candidate for inclusion in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next year.

Likewise gunning for berths are the Nakano brothers Shugen and Keisei, also in Tokyo, and Mariya Takahashi, who is in Nagoya.

There is no Olympic qualifications scheduled yet given the current conditions but if things clear up towards the end of the year, there could be one that takes place.

Still, Carter said if 2020 is shut out completely, the qualifying will run until the second week of June 2021. The Olympics will be held from July 23-Aug. 8.

Based on the latest world rankings, Watanabe is among the top 25 and if she keeps her lofty rating by staying active in tournaments, she will automatically secure a slot, the PJF said.

So far, the Philippines has four qualified athletes for Tokyo: boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo.

The training of Obiena, who is in Formia, Italy, and Yulo, in Japan, are no longer affected by the coronavirus outbreak since these countries have flattened the curve.

As for Marcial and Magno, as well as those aiming to qualify, they simply have no choice but to wait for the go-signal to return to training as the cases on local shores continue to rise.