Combat sports contributed 32 out of the Philippines’ total gold haul of 58 medals in the recently concluded Cambodia Southeast Asian Games.
The Filipino indigenous martial art of arnis and taekwondo emerged as the top producers with 6 gilts each.
Wrestling and boxing had 4 each, while kickboxing and jiu jitsu had 3 each, kun bokator and karate 2 each and judo and wushu had one each.
Time and again, martial arts sports delivered for the Philippines even in the most adverse condition.
Some of the silver medals were hotly contested and could have been translated into gold, but no thanks to judges’ incompetence, hometown decisions and other human factors that led to questionable losses.
A case in point was the sport of Vovinam, an indigenous Vietnamese martial art that made its debut in the biennial meet.
Filipina Hergie Bacyadan fought a Vietnamese in the final of the women’s -65kg combat event. The scoring was so close, exchanging upperhand even as the Filipina was clearly pummeling her opponent.
At the end of the regulation and an extra period, the score ended at 6-all although there was a clear punch in the waning seconds that should have been counted and served as marginal point for the Filipina.
The Vietnamese side refused to fight for another extra period and the technical committee proceeded to the “raffle” to determine a winner.
It was a rule being laughed at by other martial arts experts. The Vietnamese got lucky and got the gold via that raffle draw.
Nevertheless, it only showed that Filipinos can compete in any kind of combat sport despite being a newcomer in the sport and even when fared against athletes from the originator of the sport.
It’s about time the Filipino sports officials put more focus in the martial sports and come up with special programs that would make the Philippines’ combat athletes a dominant force.
Thailand had seen the potential of combat sports long time ago so it invested on its athletes in taekwondo, karate, wrestling, wushu, kickboxing, and others, providing the athletes with overseas training and exposures.
Another proof of the pudding was Vietnams’ 136 gold medal haul to emerge as tops in the overall medal standing for second straight time since hosting the Games in Hanoi last year.
The Philippines can do the same and rival Vietnam for domination in this part of the world.