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Judokas stay upbeat sans Watanabe

The Philippine Judo Federation is still optimistic the national team will make a strong statement despite the absence of Filipino-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.

PJF secretary general Dave Carter said they are excited for the local athletes to shine after an impressive showing in last year’s biennial meet in Vietnam.

Apart from last year’s gold medalist Shugen Nakano and Rena Furukawa, local judokas such as Daryl Mercado picked up the silver medal in the men’s 55-kilogram as well as Khrizzie Pabulayan in the women’s 52kg event.

Watanabe will miss her second straight SEA Games after host Cambodia removed the -63kg event, making her miss her chance for a fifth gold medal.

Last year’s biennial meet saw the country take home two gold medals, four silver medals and four bronze medals for second place behind host nation Vietnam.

Carter said they will ramp up their regimen as the Cambodia Games will be a few months away.

“We will intensify their training in the coming months as we get closer to the SEA Games,” Carter said.

“We’re thankful to the PSC because they have refurbished our training facility on the third floor of the MSAS (Medical and Scientific Athlete Services) building.”

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