MANILA, Philippines – “Realistically speaking, I think we will get 5, one sure gold,” replied Philippine Judo Federation president David Carter when asked about his forecast for the national judo team in the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this August, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Philippines is sending Filipino-Japanese athletes Kohei Kohagura, Keisei Nakano, Shugen Nakano, Kiyomi Watanabe, Mariya Takahashi, and Davao City native Sydney Sy Tancontian as judo representatives for the 29th edition of the SEA Games. Out of the 6, Tancontian is the only one who locally trains while the rest are based in Japan.
According to Carter, training in Japan has a huge upside for the Fil-Jap athletes as the program there is more advanced.
“Do’n sa kanila (There in Japan), every day – sometimes 6 times a week – they practice judo,” he said.
“At marami silang kalaban, ‘di kagaya ng nandito medyo limitado, pati ‘yung equipment. Pero do’n all out ‘yung kanilang nakukuhang suporta (And they have more opponents there, unlike here it’s a little limited, even the equipment. But over there, the support is all out for them).”
While 17-year-old Tancontian is aware her training is “somewhat different” compared to the Fil-Jap judokas, she “can’t see [that] as a disadvantage” because she too is dedicated to the sport.
“A program was made for me to improve more on strength and conditioning,” Tancontian said. “In the morning I train with my fellow university teammates and in the evening I go to train with the national team.”
Spearheading the Philippines’ campaign is 20-year-old Watanabe, who is gunning for her third straight gold medal win in the SEA Games. She won her first gold during her SEA Games debut back in 2013, and snagged another one in 2015.
Tancontian said that Watanabe, ranked 23rd in the world, inspires her as an athlete. “I’ve seen her play [at the] SEA Games [in] Singapore, and she had an outstanding performance that brought home a gold medal. I am inspired [by] how dedicated she is [to] judo,” said the University of Santo Tomas (UST) varsity team member.
Carter echoed Tancontian’s sentiments, adding that he expects the gold to come from Watanabe.
“We are very confident that she will get the gold again this August in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
“[Watanabe] boosts the morale of the whole team,” he added. “Pagka mayroon kang gano’n na player, ginaganahan ka. Ginaganahan ‘yung mga teammate mo, nacha-challenge din ‘yung mga teammate mo.”
(If you have a teammate like her, you become motivated. Her teammates become motivated and challenged as well.)
Carter also emphasized the importance of delivering results at the SEA Games.
“Mahirap din kasi ‘yung sabi lang tayo ng sabi tapos wala naman tayong na-de-deliver. Siyempre mawawalan ng gana ‘yung nagsusuporta,” he explained.
(It’s not good when all we do is talk and talk but we fail to deliver. Of course our supporters will lose motivation, too.)
Carter said he is satisfied with the support coming from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
“Right now what I can say is: [the] Philippine Sports Commission supports the athletes particularly [in] judo. They are very supportive,” he said.
The Olympic dream is also alive for the country’s judokas.
“So nakikita ng POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) at the same time ng PSC na posible tayong makarating ng Olympics. Pagka ganon, gaganahan ngayon lalo ‘yung [PSC] and the POC to support the [team],” Carter said.
(So the POC and at the same time the PSC observed that it is possible for us to reach the Olympics. Because of that, the PSC and the POC get more motivated to support the team.) – Rappler.com
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