• Kyodo

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Ayumi Uekusa qualified for Japan’s Tokyo Olympic team Saturday after a quarterfinal berth in the women’s over-68-kg kumite at the Karate 1-Premier League Salzburg.

Despite losing her quarterfinal against Germany’s Charlotte Grimm, Uekusa moved far enough ahead of her nearest competition in the Olympic rankings to meet the Japan Karate Federation’s selection criteria for the July 24 to Aug. 9 Tokyo Games.

Uekusa, who won the 2016 world championship and was runner-up two years ago, will represent Japan in the over-61-kg kumite, the heaviest Olympic weight division for women.

“My strongest feeling is a sense of relief,” said the 27-year-old, adding she felt a responsibility to the other Japanese karateka who battled for Olympic selection.

“I want to get even stronger and win the Olympic title.”

Karate is making its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games. The men’s and women’s kumite will each be contested over three weight classes instead of the five normally used by the World Karate Federation.

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