LIKE most national sports associations trying to make the most during the coronavirus-interrupted year, the Karate Pilipinas Sports Federstion (KPSF) is looking to finish 2021 with a bang.
In fact, the KPSF is hoping to perform well in two major championships for the remainder of the year: the World Karate Championships scheduled Nov. 16-21 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the Asian Championships set Dec. 19-22 in Kazakhstan.
KPSF president Richard Lim believes the three Filipino karatekas — Junna Tsukii, Jamie Lim and Joco Vasquez — can represent the country well.
“They are ready to compete and make the country proud in the World and Asian karate championships,” said Lim during the 123rd “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Oct. 8.
Lim said Tsukii, the 30-year-old Filipino-Japanese karate champion, is doing exceptionally well with her continuous training in Japan.
“I don’t see any reason why she (Tsukii) can’t compete for a medal in Dubai considering her continuous training in Japan,” added Lim during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporatiion (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Lim also said Tsukii, who captured a gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila and bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta both in 50kg kumite, is also in constant communication with Turkish coach Okay Arpa.
“Actually, Junna wanted to come home and join the national team in bubble training in the PSC facilities in Baguio City,” Lim told editors and teporters of TOPS.
But Tsukii, who is fresh from back-to-back medal finishes in the Karate 1 Premier League, will have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine upon her arrival in the country.
“We advised her not to come home and join the bubble training in Baguio Cty anymore. Sayang yun 10 days quarantine dito na wala syang training. Sa Japan, tuloy naman training nya. Right now, she is in Serbia,” explained Lim.
“We will just meet her in Dubai next month,” added the karate chief.
The two other Dubai-based karate champions — Lim and Vasquez — are now with the rest of the national team members in Baguio.
Lim, daughter of PBA legend Samboy Lim, and Vasquez are deep in training for the world champioships.
“In terms of strength and conditioning, medyo OK na sila at walang problema. Si Joco tuloy din ang training with our coaches since individual kata event sya. Nakapag face-to face training naman sya bukod sa online,” explained Lim.
“Jamie is also in Baguio bubble training camp right now. Nakapag- adjust na din sya in terms of sparring with partners already.”
Lim admitted the KPSF will be watching the world championships very closely.
“If Junna, Jamie and Joco perform well, we may not need to send them in AKF. But if they need to get points, we might need to send them again.”
He said sending a big delegation is another option.
“But right now, we have not tackled the plan to send a big delegation to the Asian championships. We have to consider a lot of factors, like the cost of going to Kazakhstan. Although the PSC is always helping us with our travels abroad, medyo. problema kung madami. Pero kung kailangan padala, magpadala tayo.”
He said the schedule of the event during the Christmas season is another concern.
“Yun date ng competition, magpa-Pasko. So pag-uwi nila dito, they need to undergo quarantine kahit Pasko. Alam naman nyo ang Pasko dito sa atin. Baka awayin tayo ng mga magulang.”
Next year, the KPSF is looking at the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and the Asian Games in China.
“The Baguio bubble training is actually part of a long-term preparation for the team’s participation in the SEA Games and the Asian Games in China next year,” claimed Lim.
“Our biggest goal is to win a gold in the Asian Games. We have really set out sights for the gold in China,” said Lim.
Asked about the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in Thailand, Lim admitted there is still no official word from the organizers.
“Actually, I’m not really sure about it. Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Cong. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Alvin Aguilar and I attended the CDM meeting and everything is in place already,” explained Lim, who is also the chef de mission of Team Philippines.
“It was also a shock for me na na-move nga to 2023, but for the reason, that I do not know,” added Lim, referring to the multi-sports event scheduled May 21-30 in Bangkok and Chonburi.
“I guess we have to wait for Thailand and hear what the reason is. There’s official announcement from them. So, we’ll just wait. Ayoko ring pangunahan, but as for the CDM meeting two weeks ago, everything looks perfect,”aid Lim.
“I don’t want to speculate. I really have no idea kung kelan sila talaga. I’m also at a loss. Nagulat lang rin talaga kami.”
In AIMAG the POC plans to send as many as 160 athletes in aquatics, 3×3 basketball, billiards, bowling, chess, dancesport, e-sports, indoor athletics, indoor rowing, jiu-jitsu, karate, kickboxing, kurash, muay, pencak silat, sambo, sepak takraw, shooting, skateboarding, taekwondo and wrestling.
Lim also expressed confidence that karate will still be included in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“There is actually a big chance also that karate will be back in the Paris Olympics,” claimed Lim.
“First, France won a gold medal in karate in the Tokyo Olympics. I know the lawmakers there are now trying to work it out and bring karate back in Paris 2024. We’re still waiting for it. Meron din kasi silang election kaya siguro hindi pa na-dicuss. But we’re really hoping that it will be approved.”
Sa Asian Games naman, I think mukhang okay naman kami for the next four Asian Games. Karate is there.”
Lim alo dismissed the notion that karate is not a very popular sport.
“If you look at karate in the attendance of WKF World Championships, we have about 160-plus countries participating. It is also one of Top 10 most popular sports in the world.”
“France used to be very strong in karate. Pero madami na ding athletes ang nawala at nag-retiro na. Madami ang bago kaya medyo struggling pa sila.”
“But after coming home with a gold medal in the Olympics in Tokyo, I think nabuhay ulit ang karate community sa France. Let’s wait and see.” With report from Gab Ferreras