The national judo team led by Kiyomi Watanabe will plunge into action in the 2017 Asian Judo Open starting today at the Tin Shui Wai Sports Center in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
The three-time Southeast Asian Games champion Watanabe remains the top bet in the nine-player Philippine delegation because of her impressive record this year.
She won a gold medal in the Taipei Asia Open in July, silver in the European Open in February and bronze in the World Judo Tour —Paris Grand Slam also in February.
The 21-year old Watanabe is seeded first in the women’s 63 kgs. and will be up against second pick Maeve Coughlan of Australia, Mongolian bets Baasanjargal Bayarbat and Davaasuren Munkhbat, Lai Man Tang of Macau, and Futaba Suzuki of Japan.
Also expected to win medals for the country is Kuala Lumpur SEA Games champion Mariya Takahashi who will compete in the women’s 70 kgs.
Takahasi is the No. 3 seed while Australian Aofie Coughlan and Taiwanese Shang Liu-yu are the top two seeds.
Playing in the women’s 57 kgs. is another Filipino-Japanese Megumi Kurayoshi while the other members of the team are Al Rolan Llamas and Sean Levyn Panganiban (men’s 60 kgs.), Shugen Nakano (men’s 66 kgs.), Keisei Nakano (men’s 73 kgs.), Jenielou Mosqueda (women’s 63 kgs.) and Kohei Kohagura (men’s 81 kgs.).
The team is fresh from its campaign in the World Judo Tour – Tokyo Grand Slam in Japan early this month.
“We are optimistic this time that we’ll be able to get medals. Our athletes are motivated to bounce back in Hong Kong. The field is tough but these athletes are all ready and prepared to win medals,” stressed Irene Watanabe, Kiyomi’s mother.
A total of 187 athletes from 22 countries are competing in the Asian meet.