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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