Kiyomi Watanabe tries her best to ‘make people happy in Cebu’

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TOKYO—Kiyomi Watanabe feels inspired by the impact she has made on Cebu sports fans, who have embraced the judo star as her own.

“If [excelling in] judo can make people in Cebu happy and have fun, I will keep practicing hard,” Watanabe recently told Inquirer’s SportsIQ in Japanese after a training session here.

Watanabe, who is chasing a podium place at the Tokyo Olympics here, is the daughter of a Japanese man and a Filipino woman from Cebu.

After dominating the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and taking a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Watanabe faces tougher foes here. But she will continue to prepare as she always does.

“SEA Games, Asian Games and the Olympics are all the same competition,” she said. “And I train exactly the same, so I will participate in the Olympics with the same feeling I always have. I always intend to play in any game.”

And with several people rallying behind her, Watanabe hopes to make them proud by putting on a stage-worthy show.

“I will do my best to get a medal at the Tokyo Olympics and contribute to” [the joy of] the people who have supported me and the fans who have their fingers crossed for me,” said the 24-year-old Olympian.


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