FILIPINO-JAPANESE karateka Junna Tsukii won the gold in the female kumite -50 kg division at the 2021 Karate 1 Premier League in Lisbon, Portugal, late on Sunday.
Ms. Tsukii, 29, beat Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan (2-0) in the final to win the top prize in her division and pad her push to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
The gold-winning feat was a culmination of an impressive run of the Philippine karate bet in the tournament which took place from April 30 to May 2.
She began with a first-round bye before dominating Colombia’s Daniela Gallego (10-2) in the second round.
In the next stage, Ms. Tsukii upset world no. 3 karateka Sara Bahmanyar of Iran (2-1) to book a place in the quarterfinals.
The quarters had her facing world number six Radwa Sayed of Egypt. The contest ended in a 1-1 draw. But having recorded more flags, 3-2, in the match, Ms. Tsukii was the one who advanced to the semifinals.
In the Final Four, the Filipino-Japanese karateka had a relatively easier time, sending world number eight Alexandra Recchia of France to a 2-0 defeat.
On her Facebook page, Ms. Tsukii celebrated the huge win after.
“Look at my first gold medal on the world caliber stage. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me to this point. This medal is for YOU,” she wrote with a photo of her wearing her gold medal.
Ms. Tsukii, currently eighth in her division (third in Asia) in the Tokyo Olympic qualifying standings, is seeking to break the top four in the world to book an automatic spot in the Games.
She, along with the other members of the national karate team, is also eyeing the world Olympic karate qualifiers in Paris, France, set for June as a springboard to the Olympics. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo