Judoka Watanabe delivers PH’s 1st silver in Asian Games

Kiyomi Watanabe
Kiyomi Watanabe (Photo by ESPN5)

Three-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe delivered the country’s first silver medal in the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia on Thursday.

The Filipino-Japanese marched on to the championship round after beating Thailand’s Orapin Senatham (by Ippon in 1:17) in the quarterfinals and prevailed over Mongolia’s Gankhaich Bold (by Wza-ari in 4:00) in the semifinals.

But Watanabe bowed to Japan’s Nami Nabekura, who won by Ippon in 3:21, to claim the gold medal in their final match at the Jakarta Convention Center Plenary Hall.

“I am happy to win the silver medal,” said Watanabe, who spoke little English. She was seventh in Incheon, South Korea four years ago.

“She (Watanabe) did her best to win, but her Japanese opponent is very good,” Watanabe’s Japanese coach Yazaki Yuta said after the match.

Nabekura, who is No. 3 in the International Judo Federation (IJF) world rankings, said she is nervous but optimistic of winning.

“This is my first Asian Games and I was a little nervous. But I told myself that I have to win,” said the 21-year-old Nabekura, who spoke through a translator.

“I trained so hard to prepare for this competition,” said the 5-foot-4 Nabekura, who defeated Indonesia’s Ardelia Yuli Fradivtha and China’s Jing Tang to reach the final round.

Nabekura is a four-time Grand Prix champion and a gold winner in the 2017 Asian Championships in Hong Kong and the 2015 World Junior Championships in United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, Filipino-Japanese athletes Mariya Takahashi (women’s -70kg, Megumi Kurayoshi (women’s -57kg) and Keisei Nakano (men’s -73kg) failed to advance to the medal round in their respective categories.

Takahashi, the 2017 SEA Games champion, downed Thailand’s Surattana Thongsri (by Ippon in 1:21) in the round-of-16 to reach the quarterfinal round but lost to South Korea’s Kim Seong-yeon in the next round.

Takahashi’s loss sent her to repechage stage where she lost to Mongolia’s Naranjargal Tsend-Ayush.

Just like Watanabe, Takahashi could not handle Kim, who is the Asian Games defending champion.

“She (Kim) is very strong. It is hard to beat her,” said the 17-year-old Takahashi, a high school junior at the Shukugawa Gakuin High School in Hyogo Prefecture.

But against her Thailand foe, Takahashi had expected to win.

“I beat her two times so I know I can win,” said Takahashi, who beat Thongsri in the 2017 SEA Games final and the Grand Slam in Tokyo in the same year.

Thongsri, a five-time SEA Games champion, finished ninth in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

Kurayoshi was sent packing by Hong Kong’s Leung Po Sum in the round-of-16.

Keisei, the twin brother Shugen, won over Jordan’s Eyal Salman Younis (by Wza-ari in 4:00) in the round-of-32, but lost to Iran’s Mohammad Mohammadi Barimanlou in the round-of-16.

Shugen won Malaysia’s Wei Fu Chong in the first round but was eliminated by Kazakhstan’s Yeldos Zhumakanov (by Ippon in 24 seconds) in the round-of-16.

In kurash, Jason Balabal lost to Turkmenistan’s Guvanch Begaliyev, 0-10, in the first round of the men’s -90kg category.

In athletics, Ernest John Obiena registered 5.30 meters to finish seventh among 13 entries in the men’s pole vault.

Japan’s Seito Yamamoto topped the event with a new Games record of 5.70 meters, while China’s Jie Yao and Thailand’s Patsapong Amsam Ang each cleared 5.50 meters.

Those who cleared 5.40 meters ahead of Obiena were Kazakhstan’s Sergey Grigoryev, Saudi Arabia’s Hussain Asim Al Hizam and South Korea’s Jin Min-sub.

Filipino-American Kristina Knott placed sixth in a tie with China’s Kong Lingwei with a time of 23.51 seconds in the women’s 200-meter run.

Bahrain’s Edidiong Odion won the gold in 22.96 seconds, India’s took the silver in and China’s Wei Yongli got the bronze in 23.27 seconds.

The men’s 4 x 100 meters relay team of Filipino-Americans Eric Shauwn Cray and Trenten Anthony Beram, Clinton Kingley Bautista and Anfernee Lopena failed to qualify in the final after landing fifth with a time of 39.59 seconds in the heats.

Mark Harry Diones was 12th in a 15-man field in the men’s triple jump with 15.72 meters. He registered 16.46 meters in the 2017 Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar.

India’s Arpinder Singh bagged the gold medal with a best jump of 16.77 meters on his third attempt. Uzbekistan’s Ruslan Kurbanov pocketed the silver with 16.62 meters while China’s Shuo Cao got the bronze with 16.56 meters.PNA