The national judo team got off to a slow start as Leah Jhane Lopez and Shugen Nakano were eliminated in the preliminaries of the 19th Asian Games on Sunday at the Xiaoshan Linpu Gymnasium here.
Lopez, 23, was defeated by the second seed, Abiba Abuzhakynova of Kazakhstan, via Waza-ari in the Round of 16 in the women’s -48-kilogram category, while Nakano surrendered to Ryoma Tanaka of Japan via Ippon in the Round of 16 in the men’s -66-kg event.
The 26-year-old Nakano, a gold medalist in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi and a silver medalist in the following edition in Phnom Penh, started strong by defeating 21-year-old Saoud Alamiri of Kuwait via Ippon in the Round of 32. However, he failed to maintain his momentum as the younger, more aggressive Tanaka, the fourth seed, showcased his impressive form en route to a victory that took just three minutes and five seconds.
“These athletes played really well. Unfortunately, they were matched against top seeds,” said Dave Carter, Secretary-General of the Philippine Judo Federation.
The 21-year-old Tanaka will face Narmandakh Bayanmunkh of the United Arab Emirates in the quarterfinals.
All hope is not lost for the Filipinos, as Asian Games silver medalist Kiyomi Watanabe begins her campaign in the women’s -63-kg class on Monday at the same venue.