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Japan's Sena Irie wins women's featherweight boxing gold in Tokyo

Japan's Sena Irie wins women's featherweight boxing gold in Tokyo

Japan's Sena Irie captured the first-ever women's boxing featherweight gold medal, sweeping aside world champion Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday. Irie's unanimous victory in the 54 to 57-kilogram division final at Kokugikan Arena sees the 20-year-old become the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic boxing gold. Japan's Sena Irie (blue) and Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines fight in the women's boxing featherweight final of the Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 3, 2021, at Kokugikan Arena. (Kyodo) "I don't remember anything about the bout, before I knew it I was getting changed," said Irie, who lives in Tokyo. "I feel like I am in the middle of a dream." "It hasn't sunk in yet, I just want to keep gazing at this medal." The Japanese got off to a fast start, her left jab landing often and effectively. The judges read it that way, too, handing her the first round unanimously 10-9. Petecio worked her way into the bout in the second, upping the pace and rushing forward but Irie responded and finished the round with a sweet right that landed flush. One judge gave the second round to Irie, but the rest went for the Filipino, meaning the Japanese had to convince just two of four judges in the last. The third was a messy affair, both fighters frantic in their pursuit of the inaugural Olympic title in the division and it was Irie who ended the stronger, convincing all the judges she deserved the crown. The gold medal is third ever in the Olympics for Japanese boxers, the previous two coming in men's events. Takao Sakurai won the bantamweight title at the 1964 Tokyo Games and Ryota Murata took the middleweight crown in London in 2012. Earlier Tuesday, Ryomei Tanaka guaranteed himself a medal in the men's 48 to 52-kg flyweight category when he scored a quarterfinal win over Colombian Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas. The 27-year-old Tanaka defeated Martinez Rivas on a split decision, winning 4-1 to set up a meeting with Carlo Paalam of the Philippines in the semifinals on Thursday. Tanaka has earned at least a bronze medal on his Olympic debut as both semifinal losers are awarded the medal. Kiyoshi Tanabe was the last Japanese man to win an Olympic flyweight medal, taking bronze at the 1960 Rome Games. Tanaka's win means Japan is guaranteed to win at least three medals in the men's and women's boxing competitions in Tokyo, the most ever by the country at an Olympics. Sena Irie of Japan reacts after winning the women's featherweight boxing final of the Tokyo Olympics against Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines on Aug. 3, 2021, at Kokugikan Arena. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo  

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Tokyo Games

Super Saso shouldering golfing hopes of 2 nations in Tokyo

Sometimes athletes with dual nationalities fail to reap the full benefits of either allegiance, Filipino-Japanese golf sensation Yuka Saso makes the most of both. Fans, family and friends from her two home countries will be glued to the TV when the 20-year-old plays in her first Olympic tournament over four days from Wednesday, rooting for her as one of their own, albeit from afar. Filipino-Japanese teenager Yuka Saso poses with the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, on June 6, 2021. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo Saso, born to a Japanese father and a Filipino mother, is representing her maternal homeland but it may not always be that way. She says she is still undecided about what nationality she will eventually choose, the law in Japan ostensibly requiring people with dual citizenship to choose one by the age of 22. In reality, though, the Japanese government does not force dual citizens to make a choice, effectively allowing many to maintain their dual nationalities. Even so, Saso said in a recent interview with Kyodo News that having to choose a nationality, should she decide to do so, would be very difficult given that she is equally attached. "Basically, I'm both," said Saso, who is the only holder of both a Japanese and a Philippine passport in her family and speaks Tagalog, Japanese and English. In a reflection of that bifurcated identity, her fans are also equally split. Supporters in both the Philippines and Japan shared a moment of joy when Saso equaled 2008 winner Park In Bee of South Korea as the youngest winner of the U.S. Women's Open two months ago, beating Japan's Nasa Hataoka in a playoff. Amazingly, both Saso and Park were exactly 19 years, 11 months, 17 days old when they won the U.S. Open some 13 years apart. Her win was big news in both countries. Boxing legend and high-profile Filipino politician Manny Pacquiao joined a chorus on social media praising Saso, tweeting, "You have shown to the world the Filipino greatness as the world's youngest champion in the prestigious 2021 US Women's Open." The Philippine Post Office has said it plans to feature her on stamps, a way it honors living Filipinos who have inspired the Southeast Asian nation. In Japan, the government's top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, also offered his congratulations on Saso's big U.S. win, saying the playoff holes were "a fierce battle" but that Saso's perseverance was the difference. The young woman can prove a rallying point for Filipinos, Japanese, Filipino-Japanese and others among the Philippines' widespread diaspora, Johnny Dee, president of the Pinoy Golfers Association Japan, believes. "Young generations of Japanese-Filipino golfers, Filipino-American golfers and Filipino golfers alike are surely inspired" by her achievements, said Dee, a Yokohama resident. Following her U.S. Women's Open win, Tatsuo Yamanaka, who oversees the golf team at Yoyogi High School in Tokyo, Saso's alma mater, told Kyodo News while he "knew her power and mental fortitude would serve her well on the global stage," he did not imagine "she would reach such great heights so soon." And they are heights that give her a platform to shed light on some of the issues around identity in Japan and the Philippines, including the bullying she experienced in both places. "If (bullies) call me Japanese, I didn't really feel bad because that was true. And if I'm here in Japan, they say I'm from the Philippines, I didn't feel bad too because that was true." She is from each country and neither, but can make a difference in both.  

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