• Kyodo

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Miho Miyahara earned a spot on the Japan national karate team on the opening day of the Karate 1-Premier League Salzburg, one of the last chances to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, on Friday.

By meeting the qualification criteria set by the Japan Karatedo Federation, Miyahara became the fifth member to secure a spot on the Japan Olympic team and first as a female kumite fighter. Miyahara competes in the 50-kg weight class but qualified at 55 kg.

The 23-year-old advanced to Sunday’s final by beating French two-time world champion Alexandra Recchia 6-2 in the 50-kg semifinals at Sporthalle Alpenstrasse sports hall.

“I want to win this competition and the Olympics, both by giving my best performance,” Miyahara said. “In August, I want to put on an impressive demonstration of Japanese martial arts. I want to brush up on my offensive moves to give the spectators some excitement.”

Miyahara was chosen for the Olympics over compatriot Sara Yamada due to their points difference in the world rankings. Yamada was eliminated in the third round of the 55-kg competition.

The two lightest categories for women, the 50 kg and 55 kg, will be combined into the Olympic category of 55 kg when the sport makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo this summer.

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