KUALA LUMPUR — Teenage judoka Mariya Takahashi bagged the country's second gold in the sport, winning the women's -70kg division in her first try in the 29th Southeast Asian Games at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre Hall 1.
The 16-year-old Takahashi dethroned five-time reigning SEA Games champion Surattana Thongsri via ippon, joining Kiyomi Watanabe as gold medalists in judo.
Takahashi, born to a Filipina mother who traces her roots in Davao, made his first-ever appearance in the SEA Games for the Philippines after being discovered by Philippine judo officials just six months ago.
"Alam ko kasi laro nito," said national head coach Rolan Llamas, when asked if he expected the gold from Takahashi.
Officials are confident Takahashi will repeat as champion in the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.
"Hindi pa hinog (for Asian Games) pero hinahanda namin siya sa SEA Games. Magugulat kayo," said Llamas.