THE road to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics continues to look brighter than ever for Filipina hopeful Junna Tsukii after grabbing a gold in the World Karate Federation (WKF) on Sunday night (Manila time).
The 29-year-old karateka clinched the top spot in the female kumite -50kg division of the 2021 Karate 1 Premier League in Lisbon, Portugal.
She defeated Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan, 2-0, in the final round to secure the title, her first gold medal in a world division.
The WKF Premier League offers the highest level of open championships in karate. Her win in the series strengthened the chances of the 30th Southeast Asian Games gold medalist to qualify in the Olympics.
The top four athletes in the world will automatically be given a slot in the prestigious competition. Tsukii is currently at no. 10 overall, and no. 5 in Asia.
This coming June, Tsukii will also join other national athletes like Jamie Lim and Joan Orbon in the final Olympic Qualifying Tournament set in Paris, France.
In the Lisbon meet, Tsukii took a beating from world no. 3 Sara Bahmanyar of Iran before she overpowered world no. 6 Radwa Sayed of Egypt in the quarterfinals.
She also trounced world no. 8 Alexandra Recchia of France in the semis to enter the championship match.
In a social media post, the Fil-Jap karateka proudly showed off her new medal.
"I would like to thank everyone who have supported me to this point, this medal is for YOU," she said.
A few months back, Tsukii had been going back and forth between Japan and Serbia to train and compete in various tournaments to prepare herself for the official qualifying.