Filipino-Japanese Kiyomi Watanabe wound up seventh overall in the prestigious 2017 World Judo Tour – Abu Dhabi Grand Slam held at the IPIC Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Watanabe, a three-time Southeast Asian Games champion, earned an opening round bye then outclassed Nazgul Kubasheva of Kazakhstan in the second round to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
The 21-year old Asian Open Women’s Judo Championship gold medalist, however, fell short in the quarterfinals against top seed Kathrin Unterwurzacher of Austria in the tournament sanctioned by the International Judo Federation.
Nonetheless, Watanabe earned points to strengthen her bid to qualify to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. At present, she is ranked 22nd in the world.
“She was a bit frustrated dahil mali daw yung attack niya during the quarterfinals. She really wanted to make it to the podium to give honors to our country following her bronze medal in the 2017 World Judo Tour – Paris Grand Slam in France. But her seventh-place finish was good enough to earn ranking points,” said Irene Watanabe, Kiyomi’s mother who also serves as her mentor.
Watanabe hopes to bounce back in the 2017 World Judo Tour – Tokyo Grand Slam in Japan scheduled on December 2 and the 2017 Asian Open Judo Championship in Hong Kong on December 9.
“We would like to thank the Philippine Sports Commission for helping Kiyomi in her international exposure as she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics. It’s important for her to compete in world-level tournaments to gain ranking points,” added Irene, a Toledo, Cebu native.
Watanabe was the highest placer in the six-man national judo team sent by the Philippine Judo Federation and Philippine Sports Commission in the world tour.
Filipino-Japanese Nakano brothers Shugen and Keisei as well as Kohei Kohagura, Roland Llamas and Helen Dawa faltered in their respective weight classes in the event that drew 290 judokas from 48 countries.
Shugen lost to Andula Abdulzhalilobv of Russia in the men’s -66 kg; Kesei succumbed to Musa Mogushkov of Russia in the men’s -73 kg; Kohagura bowed to Frank De Wit of the Netherlands in the men’s -81 kg; Llamas was beaten by Robert Mshvidobadze of Russia in the men’s -60 kg; and Dawa yielded to Angelica Delgado of US in the women’s -52 kg.