Filipino-Japanese karateka Junna Tsukii lashed out at her Turkish coach Okay Arpa on social media, claiming that he bullied her after her victory.
Tsukii, a bronze medalist in the 2018 Asian Games, beat Vietnamese Thi Huong Dinh with a score of 1-0 at the World Trade Center in Pasay on December 7 at the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
After her win, Tsukii shared on Facebook that the national team coach, whom she did not name, ignored her and invalidated her achievement during a team meeting.
Thank you so much for supporting and cheering me today🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭❤️I'm really happy to win a gold medal at the second Sea…
She recalled that the coach congratulated other national karatekas in the game except her. When she asked him about it, he supposedly told her: “Because you are not part of the team, that’s why your medal is not for this team or not for this country. And for me you are dead, that’s why I can’t see you because you are dead.”
“I swear that I always fought for my country. And I am not dead, I am alive. Please stop hurting anymore, please,” she said.
“However, I still want to support the team for the game that will continue tomorrow. And I pray for the victory of all Philippine athletes. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat,” she added.
In another interview, she recalled that the coach started ignoring her before she went to Madrid, Spain to train and compete at the World Karate Federation Premier League. This event was supposed to help her qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Her coach initially said that the Philippine Sports Commission did not allow her to go.
She insisted, however, that the international tournament will help strengthen her bid for the 30th Southeast Asian Games here.
It was PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez who helped convince Karate Pilipinas Inc. to give her permission.
The coach continued to ignore her when she returned to the Philippines.
“After I came back here, going to the SEA Games, he never talked to me, never looked at my face. I spend my money on my competitions. I don’t buy a car, I don’t buy a house, buy candies or something. No. I spend it all to be strong. But he still says I’m selfish,” Tsukii told reporters.
Tsukii hoped that what she did could set a good example for other athletes, she added in an interview with ABS-CBN.
“That’s why I speak up for athlete’s rights because this is important for our future,” she said.
On the coach’s side
While Tsukii did mention the coach’s name, several media outlets identified him to be Okay Arpa, a former world champion, in the karateka’s post.
Arpa admitted that it was him whom the 28-year-old athlete referred to, however, people have yet to learn the whole story.
“People don’t know about the whole situation. I am not born here but in my heart I’m Filipino. I work 24 hours, seven days a week for the Philippines,” he told Inquirer.
He also said that he will make a statement after the SEA games.
“It’s maybe not the correct time. Maybe because there’s a SEA Games push. But really, I want to talk.”