Three-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe will be leading the nine-player national judo team seeing action in the World Judo Tour – Grand Slam Tokyo beginning today at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Japan.
The 21-year old Watanabe is seeded 14th in the women’s 63 kgs. category of the tournament organized by the International Judo Federation and participated in by 446 judokas from 65 countries.
World champion Tina Trstenjak of Slovenia, Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, Kathrin Unterwurzacher of Austria, Edwige Gwend of Italy and Alice Schlesinger of Great Britain are the top five seeded players in her weight class.
Watanabe wants to continue her winning ways in international competitions.
She won gold in the Asian Open Women’s Judo Championship in Taiwan, silver in the European Open Women’s Judo Championship in Austria, and bronze in the World Judo Tour – Paris Grand in France.
Recently, Watanabe reached the third round of the 2017 World Judo Championships held in Budapest, Hungary.
Kuala Lumpur SEA Games gold medalist Mariya Takahashi also guns for medal in the women’s 70 kgs. where Chiruzu Arai of Japan, Elvismar Rodriguez of Venezuela, Sanne Van Dijke of the Netherlands, Anna Bernholm of Sweden and Marie Eve Gahie of France lead the 28-player draw.
Joining Watanabe and Takahashi in the two-day meet are Sean Levyn Panganiban (men’s 60 kgs.), Rolan Llamas at Shugen Nakano (men’s 66kgs.), Kensei Nakano (men’s 73 kgs.), Kohei Kohagura (men’s 80 kgs.), Helen Dawa (women’s 52 kgs.) and Megumi Kurayoshi (women’s 57 kgs.).
“We are thankful to the Philippine Judo Federation and Philippine Sports Commission for their continuous support to our athletes. It’s an important tournament for them since they are all aiming to earn ranking points,” said Irene Watanabe, mother of Kiyomi who also serves as her coach.
EMIL C. NOGUERA