Three-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe failed to advance to the medal round of the prestigious 2017 World Judo Championships being held at the László Papp Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary.
The 21-year old Filipino-Japanese judoka suffered a second-round loss to American Leilani Akiyama in Pool C of the women’s 63 kg. category.
Clarisse Agbegnenou of France dominated the event after beating silver medalist Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia in the championship round of the tournament sanctioned by the International Judo Federation.
Agata Ozdoba of Poland and Mungunchimeg Baldorj of Mongolia earned one bronze apiece.
Despite the setback, Watanabe is expected to earn points in the tournament to improve her International Judo Federation world ranking.
She is currently 25th in the world.
Watanabe needs to barge into the Top 12 to gain an automatic spot to the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan.
“She’ll be qualified to the Tokyo Olympics if she makes it to the Top 12. Right now, she’s in the Top 15 if you remove countries with two to three athletes in the Top 24,” Watanabe’s mother Irene explained.
“The international federation gives just one direct slot per country. Great Britain has three athletes in the Top 24. Russia, Brazil, France, Austria and Japan have two each. So, Kiyomi really has a strong chance of qualifying to the Olympics,” she added.
To earn more ranking points, the Philippine Judo Federation will be sending Watanabe in three big tournaments in the last quarter of the year including two International Judo Federation World Tour Grand Slam events.
First will be the Grand Slam-United Arab Emirates on October 22 to 26 in Abu Dhabi then at the Grand Slam-Japan on December 1 to 5 in Tokyo.
After the Tokyo meet, Watanabe will go to Hong Kong for the Asian Judo Open Championships on December 6 to 12.