Karateka Junna Tsukii becomes first Filipina to bag gold in World Games

Congratulations, Junna Tsukii! (Junna Tsukii photo via ptvnews.ph)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

30-year-old karateka Junna Tsukii recently inked her name in the history books after becoming the first Filipina to win a gold medal in the World Games.

The Filipina-Japanese athlete reigned supreme during the women’s kumite under-50 kilogram division in the 2022 edition of the World Games held in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.

Tsukii made history after stunning world no.2 karateka Yorgelis Salazar of Venezuela, 2-0, during the championship match of the prestigious sporting event.

Aside from pulling off the big-time upset against the Venezuelan, Tsukii’s victory also marked Salazar’s first-ever loss in the 2022 World Games.

This is the first-ever gold by a Filipina athlete since the World Games kicked off last 1981 and is the second overall gold medal of a Filipino athlete.

World-class Filipino billiards player Carlo Biado became the first to claim the throne for the Philippines during the 2017 edition of the World Games.

It was a stellar run for the Fil-Jap karateka after facing early adversity when Salazar quickly put her imprints on Tsukii, edging her in the very first round of the elimination phase.

However, Tsukii bounced back harder and took down several top dogs in the tournament in her remaining matches including 2018 Asian Champion Miyo Miyahara of Japan during her knockout match.

Tsukii put up a performance for the ages and out-pointed Miyahara during the match that ended in a tightly-contested 4-3 ending and capped off her redemption tour by getting back at Salazar.

Completing the list of Tsukii’s casualties during her run were German Shara Hubrich and Gema Morales Ozuna of Spain.