World Games

Junna Tsukii bags karate gold in World Games

Ariel Ian Clarito

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Junna Tsukii bags karate gold in World Games

HISTORIC. Junna Tsukii pulls off an upset in the title round.


Overcoming a slow start, karateka Junna Tsukii becomes just the second Filipino athlete to win a gold in the World Games

MANILA, Philippines – Karateka Junna Tsukii made history on Friday, July 8 (Saturday, July 9, Manila time) by bagging a gold medal in the women’s kumite -50 kilogram division of the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, United States. 

Ranged against a lean but elite field of eight karatekas – five of them ranked in the top 10 in the world – Tsukii overcame a slow start to the tournament and won three of her next four fights to become just the second athlete from the Philippines to win a gold in the World Games.

Tsukii stunned world No. 2 Yorgelis Salazar, 2-0, in the final round to deal the Venezuelan her first loss in the tournament. 

The 30-year-old Tsukii showed she had learned from their previous encounter as Tsukii lost her opening match in lopsided fashion against Salazar. 

With her title conquest, Tsukii became the first Filipina to win a gold in the World Games, a competition which began in 1981 and held every four years for sports events not usually contested in the Olympics. 

Billiards player Carlo Biado was the only other Filipino athlete to capture a gold in 2017.

Tsukii, ranked fourth in the world, lost her first match to Salazar and the score was not even close, 8-1, as the Filipino-Japanese was thoroughly dominated by the Venezuelan, who just this April emerged champion of the Karate 1 Premiere League in Portugal.

With her back against the wall in the pool stage, Tsukii bounced back strong by winning over world No. 4 Shara Hubrich of Germany, 6-4. 

The Philippines’ top karateka then narrowly lost via senshu to Gema Morales Ozuna of Spain, ranked 19th in the world, in a match that initially ended at 3-all. Tsukii, however, earned enough points to advance to the semifinal.

In the knockout stage, Tsukii overcame reigning world champion Miyo Miyahara of Japan. In a close bout – which ended with a score of 4-3 in the Filipina’s favor – Tsukii outpunched and outkicked Miyahara, who also won the world championship and Asian championship in 2018.

After Tsukii, nine other Filipinos hope to bring home medals as they compete in cue sports, duathlon, jiu-jitsu, muay thai, and powerlifting. –

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