Philippine karate team eyes stint in 2020 Tokyo Olympics

MANILA -– The Philippine karate team is setting its sights on the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.Karate has been included in the calendar of the Tokyo Games along with baseball, softball, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing.

“We have a chance in karate. That’s why we have to qualify our athletes,” said Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF) President Jose Romasanta during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate.Also present were PKF secretary general Raymund Lee Reyes, coach Ric Maanao and national athletes Leigh Cuadra, OJ delos Santos and Sarah Kimejo Pangilinan.

Reyes said it will be tough to qualify for the eight events lined up at the 2020 Olympics — three each in men’s and women’s kumite and one each in men’s and women’s kata.

“Only 10 entries from around the world will qualify in each division. That’s how difficult it’s going to be. But we will do our best to qualify our athletes,” he said.

At present, 30 athletes comprising 21 seniors and nine juniors make up the PKF pool, from which the athletes for the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia and 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia will be selected.

“We are strengthening our junior ranks. But the main target now is the Olympics. That’s the directive from our president. We have started our programs for 2020,” Reyes said.

The PKF said among the potential qualifiers are Fil-American Joane Orbon, Rexor Romaquin of Davao and 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Mae Soriano.

The 21-year-old Orbon, who has Filipino parents, is a member of the US junior karate team. She has expressed her intention to represent the Philippines in the coming international events.

“We are preparing early,” said Reyes. The Filipino karatekas will be training either in Turkey or Holland by November. Jean Malanum/PNA/