Filipino-Japanese karateka Junna Tsukii made history and immediate impact on the Team Philippines campaign after winning a gold medal in the karate competition of the World Games 2022 here on Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
Tsukii wasted no time in taking advantage of a good draw and winning her semifinal match on the way to her first gold in karate which is being played for the first time in World Games.
Tsukii poured all her skills into the Women’s Kumite -50kg as she advanced to the finals where she fashioned out a hard-earned 2 -0 win over Yorgelis Salazar of Venezuela for her breakthrough win.
She defeated Miho Miyahara of Japan 4-3 in the semis in setting up her final tussle with Salazar. The Japanese Filipina reached the semis by finishing second in Pool A made up of Yorgelis, Shara Hubrich of Germany, 6-4, and Morales Ozuna Gema of Spain, 3-3.
Tsukii lost to Yorgelis, 1-8, in their first encounter in the pool.
Tsukii’s gold medal was the first for a karate athlete and only the Philippines’ second overall in The World Games after cue artist Carlo Biado won for the first time in defeating Jayson Shaw of Great Britain in the finals of the men’s nine-ball event in 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland.
Biado will return to defend his crown in Cue sports with Rubilen Amit while Kim Mangrobang, John Chicano, and Fernando Caseres will compete in the Duathlon.
World champion Annie Ramirez will also compete in Ju-jitsu as well as Muay Thai athletes Philip Delarmino and Leeana Bade. The flag-bearer of the delegation, Joyce Reboton, will compete in Powerlifting.
The Philippines has so far won a total of 11 medals in the World Games consisting of two golds, five silvers, and five bronzes.
The five silver medals came from Arnold Baradi in Taekwondo men’s finweight and Mike Ventosa in men’s flyweight in London in 1985. Three more came from Marlon Manalo in men’s snooker Akita 2001, Ariann Cerdena in women’s singles bowling, and Cerdena with Jorge Fernandez in the mixed doubles in Karlsruhe in 19189.
The five bronze were courtesy of Dennis Orcollo 9-ball men’s singles in Cali 2013, Liza Del Rosario in Tenpin bowling -Women’s singles in Kaohsiung 2009, and Rafael Nepomuceno in Tenpin bowling men’s single in Lahti 1997 and Hague 1993 and Olivia Reyes and Rene Reyes in London 1985 in Tenpin bowling-Mixed doubles.