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Kiyomi Watanabe gives Philippines first silver

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In a finale between two heated rivals, Kiyomi Watanabe was unable to defeat IJF third-ranked Judoka Nami Nabekura, falling by way of two wazaris in the gold medal match of the half-middleweight division of the 2018 Asian Games’ Judo Tournament, Thursday.

With this, the 22-year-old Filipino-Japanese, who was born in Cebu, will settle as Asia’s second-best half-middleweight.

“Coming to this, I am the challenger,” admitted Watanabe, a Sports Science student at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“We had a game plan but I was so nervous before the game and could not execute. I know her because we often met in tournament in Japan,” she said. “But she is now much stronger than me because she often competes.”

Still, it is a huge triumph for Philippine Judo as for the first time in 22 years, a Filipino will finish on the podium for the sport.

Watanabe, who is 2-2 against Nabekura, had to play catch-up after suffering a wazari with 2:03 left in the match. Her aggression led to a takedown attempt by Nabekura that transitioned to a pin with 39 seconds left. Watanabe could not get up, resulting in the second wazari for the Japanese and the loss.

The Philippines now stands with a four gold, one silver, and 13 bronze tally.

Despite failing to get the country’s fifth gold medal, Watanabe said she is already happy with her first silver medal and her contribution to the country’s campaign.

“I didn’t have a medal in my first Asian Games. I am so happy with this medal. I hope to continue playing for the Philippines.”

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