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Rena Furukawa with Olympian Kodo Nakano (Photo by AC Divina)

32nd SEA Games

SEA Games: Rena Furukawa foils Burmese foe anew, retains -57 crown

Rena Furukawa successfully defended her Southeast Asian Games title after a golden-score victory in the final of the women’s under-57 kg on the first day of the 32nd edition’s judo competitions, Sunday at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is the country’s first gold in the sport and the 37th title for the Philippines in these Games.

Furukawa needed more time after she and her 2021 Games final opponent Myanmar’s Chu Nat Noe Wai could not be separated after the four minutes of normal time.

The 25-year-old Fil-Japanese reigning champion then found an opening to score via osoto gari and eventually won the gold, 2:43 into the extension, to put the Burmese to another silver-medal finish.

Furukawa received a bye up to the semifinals and in there took care of Vietnam’s Phuong Le Ngoc Diem who accumulated three shidos — setting up the rematch between the Filipina and the Burmese.

Team Philippines is going into these Games with optimism after a two gold-four silver-four bronze haul in the 2021 edition in Vietnam.

Shugen Nakano, a fellow defending champion, though, could not make it to the gold this time after taking one loss in the men’s under-66 kg round-robin competitions against Indonesia’s Dewa Kadek Putra who won the gold.

Nakano’s defeat against the Indonesian came between wins against Cambodia’s Ukraine-born naturalized judoka Volodymyr Guchov, Singapore’s Zhou Yujie, and Laos’ Khamsy Khounnivath.

Daryl Mercado completed the podium finishes for Team Philippines with a bronze in the men’s under-55 kg after a win over home bet Phallay Phin in the bronze medal contest.

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Mercado, a former University of Santo Tomas standout, took down Myanmar’s Kyaw Htike in the first round, but Thailand’s Jetsadakorn Suksai denied the Filipino a return trip to the finals after taking the semifinal win.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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