If their training in Japan is any indication, coach Dionisio Lucero believes his wards can win seven gold medals in the judo competitions of the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
Lucero is referring to 17-year-old Fil-Japanese Kiyomi Watanabe, who has trained in one of the best schools of judo in Japan the past seven years, and eight others who had undergone training in Japan and competed in the Japan Grand Slam before going to the SEA Games.
The judokas are Helen Dawa, Nancy Quillotes (Lucero), Gilbert Ramirez, Bryn Quillotes, Lloyd Dennis Catipon, Angelo Gabriel Catipon, Jenielou Mosequeda and Ruth Dugaduga.
“With the training I think they are the best-prepared batch we ever had. We can win as many as seven golds, we’ll try our best. They’re ready for battle,” said national men’s coach Dennis Lucero.
Watanabe, born of a Japanese father and a mother from Cebu, also had six relatives who were killed by super typhoon Yolanda. Her mother Irene Sarausad brought Kiyomi to Manila for a stopover on their trip to China for the Youth Olympic Games eliminator and at the same time attend to the funeral of their relatives.
Only Quillotes, now using her new surname, and Dugaduga, who were the only veterans left of the national pool of judo, were initially approved by the task force of the Philippine Olympic Committee-Philippine Sports Commission, but the training of the seven others in Japan weighed heavily in their inclusion in the judo team to the SEAG.