TOKYO OLYMPICS: FILIPINO-JAPANESE JUDOKA KIYOMI WATANABE

Proud Cebuana mom: Kiyomi is physically, mentally prepared 

By: Glendale G. Rosal - Multimedia Correspondent - CDN Digital | July 25,2021 - 03:42 PM
Kiyomi Watanabe (left) and her mom, Irene, during their visit to Cebu in 2017. | CDN File Photo

Kiyomi Watanabe (left) and her mom, Irene, during their visit to Cebu in 2017. | CDN File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Even before Kiyomi Watanabe sets foot on the mat in the biggest competition of her life, her ever-supportive mother, Irene Sarausad, is already very proud of her for reaching the Olympics. 

Watanabe, the Cebu City-born Filipino-Japanese judoka, is set to compete against the world’s best in the women’s -63-kilogram division of the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday. 

Irene, in an interview with CDN Digital, said that she has mixed emotions. 

“Syempre as a mother nga naa gyud pirmi sa iyahang side sukad pag sugod niya og Judo. Happy kaayo ko pero worried sad ko gamay tungod sa competition,” Irene, a native of Toledo City, west Cebu told CDN Digital. 

(Of course, as a mother, I am at her side since the she started with her Judo. I am very happy but I am a little bit worried because of the competition.)

“Kung naay pinaka proud mother of course ako na na. Proud kaayo ko samot na kadtong pag announce nga flag bearer siya. Na surprise ming tanan labaw na si Kiyomi kay na inform mi hours before sa opening,” she said.

(If there is the proudest mother, of course, that is me. I am so proud of her especially when it was announced that she is the flag bearer. We were all surprised especially Kiyomi because she was informed hours before the opening.)

Tough competition, injuries

The 24-year-old Watanabe dominated the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) held in the country. After that, Watanabe went to campaign in several Olympic qualifying tournaments, which earned her the precious slot to the quadrennial sporting spectacle that was moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m very worried lang kay ni ingon si Kiyomi nako nga this Olympics daw patayan daw ni. Iyang gi mean is grabe kaayo ang competition. It’s now or never. Also, Kiyomi has injured both her knees tungod sa pag duwa niya sa mga qualifying tournaments,” she said.

(I’m very worried because Kiyomi told me that this Olympics is really a do or die battle. What she means is the competition is really tought. It’s now or never. Also, Kiyomi has injured both her knees because of her matches in the qualifying tournaments.)

“Pero lipay ra mi kay gi allow siya sa iyang doctor makaduwa and grabe pud iyang fighting spirit. Nisulti si Kiyomi nga bahala na daw kung naa siya injuries, whatever happens daw ang goal sa bata maka medal jud siya. Anha nako nakita iyang very strong fighting spirit kay kada adlaw man gud mi mag uban.”

(We are happy that the doctor allowed her to compete and her fighting spirit is really really up there. Kiyomi told us that it doesn’t matter if she has injuries, whatever happens her goal is to have a medal. That is where I saw her strong fighting spirit because I am with her everyday.)

Irene also shared that Kiyomi’s father was teary-eyed when he saw her on the television carrying the Philippine flag along with fellow Olympians. 

Different, mature Kiyomi

For Irene, her daughter has come a very long way. 

“Lahi kaayo iyahang progress compared before. Sa una man gud, kinahanglan pa namo siya e-comfort kay usahay makabasa siya ug mga negative comments sa iyaha sa social media. Karon matured na siya ug mindset, iyaha na gipang ilisan iyang mga phones ug lain para makalikay siya ug basa sa mga negative comments,” Irene said.

(Her progress now is different compared to the time before. Before, we needed to comfort her if she can read negative comments on social media. Now, she her mindset has matured. She has changed her phones so that she can avoid reading negative comments.)

“Ako siya gi ingnan nga naa jud na ang mga negative comments. We can’t please everyone. As a mother kinahanglan nako siya i motivate nga dili magpadala ana. Instead iyaha nang himuon nga inspiration para maningkamot.”

(I told her that the negative comments will always be there. We can’t please everyone. As a mother, I need to motivate her so that she will not be affected by these negative comments. Instead, she will use those as inspiration  to push her to do more.)

Irene said that she is fond of reading negative comments about Kiyomi on social media. For her, it is one way to find out possible lapses or errors in Kiyomi’s performance during competition. But, not all; most attacks are personal and below the belt.

She also shared that a person she knew in Cebu bashed her on social media for claiming that Kiyomi was from Cebu City. Irene said that Kiyomi was born in Cebu City at the old Cebu Doctor’s Hospital (now Cebu Doctor’s University). 

She said that she would be willing to present the birth certificate of Kiyomi to prove that she was born in Cebu. 

“Makabasa ko sa mga negative comments. Mura sad mi og ma push to do better. I already explained to Kiyomi about this. Nakasabot ra man sad siya,” added Irene. 

(We read the negative comments. These were as if pushing us to do better. I already explained to Kiyomi about this. She also understood this.)

Match on Tuesday

Kiyomi faces Spain’s Cristina Cabana Perez in Tuesday’s round of 32 in the women’s -63kg division at the Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. 

Waseda University is where Kiyomi studied and honed her judo skills, giving her the much-needed homecourt advantage.

“Lahi na kaayo si Kiyomi compared before. Despite her injury, naka adjust na siya og maayo. Naa na siya mga standing techniques. Iyahang underground techniques lahi na sad. Naa na siya additional techniques nga makatabang jud niya,” Irene added. 

(Kiyomi is different now compared to before. Despite her injury, she has adjusted well. She now has standing techniques. Her ground techniques are different. She has additional techniques that can really help her.)

Irene’s best motherly advice for her Olympian daughter is to do her best, and regardless of the results, everyone’s already proud of her. 

“Ako man siya giistoryahan nga daghan pa kaayo og Olympics umaabot. Win or lose basta imong gihatag tanan. No matter the outcome atong dawaton and accept it. Pero kahibaw ko prepared na jud siya mentally and physically,” Irene said.

(I talked to her and told her that there are more coming Olympics. Win or lose as long as you gave it your all. No matter the outcome we accept it and accept it. But I know she is mentally and physically prepared.)

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TAGS: Filipino-American judoka, Irene Sarausad, Kiyomi Watanabe, Olympics, Tokyo, women's-63 kilogram division

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