Junna Tsukii advances to Lisbon Premier League final

Beatrice Go

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Junna Tsukii advances to Lisbon Premier League final

FOUR VICTORIES. Junna Tsukii (left) bounces back from her 1st round exit in her last Premier League showing in Istanbul, Turkey.

Photo from Junna Tsukii

Junna Tsukii topples several top-ranked karatekas as she continues to vie for a Tokyo Olympics berth

Junna Tsukii bounced back from her previous major tournament showing as she scored 4 victories to reach the 2021 Karate 1 Premier League final on Friday, April 30 (Saturday, May 1, Manila time) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Tsukii toppled several top-ranked bets to set a title-round duel against Kazakhstan’s Moldir Zhangbyrbay on Sunday in the female -50kg kumite event.

Winning the gold will be a big boost to the Filipino-Japanese’s quest for a Tokyo 2020 Olympics berth, where she has to emerge as No. 1 in the Asian rankings.

Tsukii currently ranks No. 3 in Asia and No. 9 in the world with 3742.50 points.

She will have to overtake Iranian Sara Bahmanyar (5677.50) and world No. 7 Ranran Li of China (4950) in the standings as host country Japan is already guaranteed an automatic spot.

After a 1st round exit in the Istanbul Premier League last March, Tsukii, who was already seeded in the 2nd round, routed Colombia’s Daniela Gallego, 10-2, to open her campaign in Lisbon.

In the next round, she clinched a huge 2-1 victory over world No. 3 Bahmanyar, who she has to leapfrog for the Asian No. 1 rank.

Tsukii tied world No. 6 Radwa Sayed of Egypt, 1-1, in the 4th round, but made it to the semifinals as the Filipino tallied more flags, 3-2.

The 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist continued to cruise through the tournament as she blanked world No. 8 Alexandra Recchia of France, 2-0, for a finals berth. – Rappler.com

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.