Shy Watanabe embraces spotlight this time


Kiyomi Watanabe (in blue) holds a dominant position over Malaysia’s Noe Wai Chu Myat in winning the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold. —SHERWIN VARDELEON

TOKYO—Kiyomi Watanabe often runs in the opposite direction of the spotlight.

“I am shy and rarely appear in news or interviews,” Watanabe told the Inquirer’s SportsIQ in an interview that will be aired on Thursday.

That’s why the judo star—and more Irene—was surprised when the limelight chased after her.

Watanabe was named flag-bearer for the Philippines in Friday’s opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics, a rare public strut for the Cebu-born athlete who normally bathes in the limelight for about four minutes or less—about the time it takes her to dismantle opponents on the mat.

“I was surprised when I was chosen to be a flag bearer,” said Watanabe, who spoke in Japanese during the interview.

The daughter…

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