Filipino-Japanese judoka Tomohiko Hoshina is an imposing figure. At 5-foot-11 and 276 lbs, he fits right in with the big boys of the men’s +100-kg division, where he will be representing the Philippines in the 2012 London Olympics.Hoshina, born to a Filipina mother and Japanese father who passed away when he was in his early teens, may be huge compared to his fellow athletes in the Philippine contingent, but it’ll hardly look that way when he goes against the top judokas in his division.
London Games favorite Teddy Riner of France, for example, stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 289 lbs. He’s a five-time world champion who has lost just one fight since the last Olympics, where he copped a bronze four years ago.
South Korean Kim Sung-Min, Hoshina’s first-round opponent, is a gold medalist in the Asian Championships in 2008 and a bronze medalist in the World Judo Championships last year. He measures in at 6-foot-3 and 280 lbs.
And Kamikawa Daiki of Japan, a country that Hoshina could have chose to represent given his dual citizenship, is even heftier, standing just 6-foot-1 but weighing upwards of 300 lbs. Kamikawa is also a former world champ that defeated Riner in the open weight division in 2010.
Hoshina admits that he chose the Philippines despite still being based in Japan because the competition there is a lot more difficult. But Hoshina still needed to qualify for the London Games on his own merits, making the Top 20 in Asia and garnering enough points in the 2011 World Judo Championships to make it to the Olympics.
He was also a silver medalist in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games and a regular participant in the world championships.
With so many heavy hitters competing in the Olympics, Hoshina should be in for a tough outing in the London Games, but could make a splash if he can get past the opening rounds.
Catch Hoshina’s opening match against Kim Sung-Min on AKTV on Friday, August 3, 5 p.m. Check out the broadcast schedule of Filipino athletes competing in the Olympics.