The national judo team is off to a flat start after Leah Jhane Lopez and Shugen Nakano failed to get past the preliminaries of the 19th Asian Games on Sunday, September 24, at the Xiaoshan Linpu Gymnasium.
Lopez, 23, fell prey to second seed Abiba Abuzhakynova of Kazakhstan via Waza-ari in the Round of 16 of the women’s -48-kilogram category while Nakano surrendered to Ryoma Tanaka of Japan via Ippon in the Round of 16 of the men’s -66-kg event.
The 26-year-old Nakano, a gold medalist in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi and silver medalist in the following edition in Phnom Penh, sizzled early when he downed 21-year-old Saoud Alamiri of Kuwait via Ippon in the Round of 32.
But he failed to sustain his momentum as the younger, more aggressive Tanaka, who is coming in as the fourth seed, displayed his impressive form en route to the victory that was completed in just three minutes and five seconds.
“These athletes played really well. Unfortunately, they were paired against top seeds,” Philippine Judo Federation Secretary General Dave Carter said.
The 21-year-old Tanaka will be facing Narmandakh Bayanmunkh of the United Arab Emirates in the quarterfinals.
All hopes, however, are not yet lost for the Filipinos as Asian Games silver medalist Kiyomi Watanabe starts her campaign in the women’s -63-kg class on Monday at the same venue.