Filipino-Japanese Keisei Nakano and Mariya Takahashi posted impressive victories in their respective divisions to advance to the next round of the Asian Judo Championships on Friday at the Hong Kong Velodrome in Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong.
Nakano overpowered Abdulaziz Albashi of Saudi Arabia in the opening round of the men’s -73 kg. class while Takahashi outclassed Nguyen Thi of Vietnam in the first round of the women’s -63 kg. of the tournament sanctioned by the Asian Judo Association.
In the second round, Nakana will be meeting Zhansay Smagulov of Kazakhstan while Takahashi battles Phupu Lhamu Khatri of Nepal.
Two-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe secured an opening round bye in the women’s -63 kg. where she will be facing the winner between Kim Joon of South Korea and Dilbar Umiraliyeva of Kazakhstan in the second round.
Early this year, Watanabe earned a silver medal in the 2017 European Open Women Championship in Oberwart, Austria and a bronze in the 2017 Grand Slam Paris in France.
Not as lucky were Joaquin Niccolo Fernandez and Helen Dawa who were booted out in the first round of their respective weight classes.
Fernandez bowed to Sulaiman Hamad of Saudi Arabia in the men’s -73 kg. and Dawa lost to Bundmaa Munkhbaatar of Mongolia in the women’s -57 kg.
Six more members of the team will open their campaign against separate foes today.
They are Monica Pineda (women’s -48 kg.), Levyn Panganiban (men’s -60 kg.), Shugen Nakano and Al-Roland Llamas (men’s -66 kg.), and Rio Olympics veteran Kodo Nakano and Dennis Catipon (momen’s -81 kg.).
Pineda takes on Kang Yang of South Korea, Panganiban tackles Jeon An of North Korea, Shugen fights Sardor Nurillaev of Uzbekistan, Llamas battles Artur Te of Kyrgyzstan, Kodo meets Serdar Jummyyev of Turkmenistan and Catipon faces Sadr Boev of Tajikistan.
The other members of the 15-player Philippine delegation are Jeneliou Mosqueda (women’s -70 kg.), Jayson Senales (men’s -90 kg.) and Shin Matsumura (men’s +100 kg.).
EMIL C. NOGUERA