National team members asserted their might, even as new faces emerged victors in the National Kickboxing Selection tournament in La Trinidad, Benguet over the weekened.
Leading the winners were 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Jerry Olsim and Gina Iniong Araos and silver medalists Jomar Balangui and Renalyn Daquel, who prevailed over their respective opponents in the finals of the bubble-type competition at the Benguet State University.
Olsim defeated Jeremy Pacatiw, a professional Mixed Martial Artist in a close contest in the men’s 71KG category, while Araos dominated Baguio City townmate Lara Alvarez in the women’s 60KG.
Daquel, a native of Abra fighting out of La Trinidad, Benguet, prevailed over Zyra Bon-as of Tadian Mountain Province in the women’s 48KG final and Balangui thwarted Edilberto Coquia of Davao City in the men’s 57KG.
Joining the nationals’ party were former national boxing training pool member Claudine Veloso, who swept all his sparmates and Cherry Sanchez from Kalinga Apayao in the womens’ 52KG final; Zephania Ngaya of Barlig Mt. Province who prevailed over Gretel De paz of Biliran, Leyte in the women’s 56KG; Daryl Chulipas of Sadanga, Mt. Province, who narrowly defeated Estrada Dong-as of Kalinga in the men’s 51KG and Renato Cha of La Trinidad winning over national mainstay Karol Maguide in a tight contest in the men’s 54KG.
Ifugao’s Carlo Von Bumina-ang upset national mainstay Carlos Alvarez of Baguio City in the men’s 67KG.
The Chulipas-Dongas showdown was also awarded the Best Fight of the tournament.
National team member Jean Claude Saclag begged off from the finals after sustaining an ankle injury in the semifinals where he swept all his opponents.
In his absence, fellow national team mainstay Emmanuel Cantores took the gold in the men’s 63.5KG category with a decision win over Richard Lachica from Las Piñas City.
Saclag was also overwhelmingly dominant in the weekly sparring sessions of the two-month training camp organized by the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas, headed by Senator Francis Tolentino and hosted by affiliate gym Team Lakay under national coach Mark Sangiao.
SKP secretary general Wharton Chan, who graced the two-day final along with vice president Bing Domingo, said the quality of kickboxing talents has tremendously improved compared with the first national tryouts in 2019.
“As a new organized martial arts sport in the Philippines, we are definitely growing in terms of quality and numbers. In a year’s time we will be ready to compete against the best in the world,” said Chan.
“Now, we will have the national ranking and those who showed potential in terms of attitude and skills will have a chance to be invited to be part of the national pool.”
Kicboxing made its debut in the 2019 SEA Games with the Philippines winning 3 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze.
The bubble-type camp was held under strict protocols, in coordination with the local government of La Trinidad, Benguet. All the participants in the camp were housed for the camp’s duration and they regularly underwent antigen tests.
National coaches Randy Caluag, Donnie Geisler, Glenn Mondol and Sangiao will continue to evaluate the skills of the winners and deliberate on the final line-up for the SEA Games and other tournaments abroad including the the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand and the World Cup.
More than 50 combat sports athletes participated in the training camp that drew aspirants from as far as Mindano.
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