HANGZHOU, China—Junna Tsukii wallowed in grief following a swift exit, but it won’t be long before she picks herself up from the heartbreak.
The Filipino-Japanese karateka is determined to shrug off the painful loss with the biggest fight of her career looming.
“I still have the world championships in two weeks. It’s painful, but I must move on,’’ said Tsukii after missing out on a medal in women’s karate on Sunday in the 19th Asian Games (Asiad).
She must. The 2023 World Karate Championships from Oct. 24 to Oct. 29 in Budapest, Hungary, is the pinnacle for every karate combatant on the planet.
Tsukii made history by collecting the 2022 World Games gold and winning two Karate 1 Premier League titles, but never a Worlds medal.
“I have to bounce back from this. I’ll rest for a day or two, then begin preparing,’’ said the 32-year-old Tsukii.
In two world championship showings, Tsukii finished 13th in her division in 2018 Madrid and 20th in 2021 Dubai.
A stinging defeat at the hands of Cambodia’s Srey Phea Chonn, 3-2, in their round of 16 -50 kilograms clash at Linping Sports Centre Gymnasium here deprived the country the chance to jack up its medal count as the curtains fell on the grand show.
As the last Filipino athlete who saw action in these Games, Tsukii’s defeat cemented the Team Philippine collection with four gold, two silver and 12 bronze medals prior to the grand closing ceremonies on Sunday evening.
The Philippines landed 17th overall, two gold medals behind Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia (14th) and finished eight golds behind Thailand, which wound up eighth overall.
Tsukii hastily assaulted Chonn on the tatami from the opening and quickly scored with a right straight to the body.
Armed with longer limbs, the 22-year-old Chonn retaliated and took the upperhand, 2-1, after connecting twice.
The Filipino-Japanese Tsukii patiently looked for an opening and found one, hitting Chonn again in a brief exchange of strikes to level the count.
But Chonn rushed to Tsukii, a multiple medalist in the Southeast Asian Games, and sneaked in a hit from a flurry of punches that she unloaded.
With eight seconds left and her back against the wall, Tsukii had no other recourse but to attack, but time wasn’t on her side as Chonn backpedaled out of harm’s way.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t win it. She was faster and yet I controlled the match. At one point, she grabbed me and I didn’t touch anything from her body, but the referee gave me a penalty and that was crucial,’’ said Tsukii.
As the referee awarded the win to Chonn, Tsukii then collapsed on her knees and began crying inconsolably as her corner questioned the decision that fell on deaf ears.
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“We gave everything, we did our best, so we keep our heads up,’’ added Tsukii after falling short of at least duplicating her bronze medal in the 2018 Asiad in Indonesia. INQ