Paris Olympics

‘In the bag’: PH judoka Kiyomi Watanabe set to clinch Paris Olympics berth

Delfin Dioquino

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‘In the bag’: PH judoka Kiyomi Watanabe set to clinch Paris Olympics berth

GROUND WORK. Kiyomi Watanabe of the Philippines in action against Cristina Cabana Perez of Spain in the Tokyo Olympics.

Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

Filipina-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe is in line for back-to-back Olympic stints, soon officially joining the Philippines' growing Paris Games cast

MANILA, Philippines – A ticket to the Paris Games awaits Filipina-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.

Philippine Judo Federation president Ali Sulit on Wednesday, June 19, said an Olympic return is “in the bag” for Watanabe pending the official announcement of the International Judo Federation (IJF).

“The official announcement of our international federation will be next week, that is why we have not released anything yet,” said Sulit during a dinner hosted by the Philippine Airlines for athletes bound for the Paris Olympics.

“But it is in the bag.”

Watanabe is in line to get one of the two continental quotas reserved for Asia in the women’s -63kg division as she ranks 92nd in the world.

Although there are athletes from Asia ranked higher than Watanabe, she still gets the spot since only a maximum of one athlete per country can qualify through the continental qualification across all weight categories and genders.

The IJF will release its final world ranking list on June 25.

It will be the second Olympic stint for the 27-year-old Watanabe as she also donned the national colors in the Tokyo Games, where she served as one of the Philippines’ flag bearers during the opening ceremony.

The imminent qualification of Watanabe also ensures that the the Philippines will have a judo representative for the fourth straight Olympics.

“We’re thankful for that, we’re grateful, and we’re really excited for this Olympic campaign for Kiyomi,” Sulit said.

Athletes who will see action in the Paris Games got instant Mabuhay Miles membership from the Philippine Airlines and received 50,000 miles.

In 2021, the Philippine Airlines rewarded weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz with flight miles for life following her golden feat in the Tokyo Games that made her the Philippines’ first Olympic champion.

Philippine Airlines vice president for marketing Alvin Miranda said the prize for the next Filipino to win gold in the Olympics “could even be better.”

“[Hidilyn] is our first-ever forever flyer. I really really want to make sure she is not the last,” said Miranda. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.