Bronze medal is 'redemption' for karateka James Delos Santos
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Karate made a comeback in these 2017 Southeast Asian Games here, and so did Filipino karatekas.
All 4 Filipinos who competed on Tuesday, August 22 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center made it to the podium, with two silver medalists and two bronze medalists.
James Delos Santos earned himself a bronze when he defeated Cambodian foe Chandararattanak Chheng in a unanimous 5-0 decision. For the 27-year-old, this was the successful comeback he was waiting for – both personally, and for Philippine karatedo.
"I can say that there's still a lot of work for me to do, but coming home with the bronze medal, it was really a great feeling for me because back in 2013, I didn't bring home any medals," he said after the match.
"I was really disappointed when I didn't medal back in 2013, but that's how life is. You fall down and you just gotta get back up."
"I just really looked at this as redemption for me. I felt that I've redeemed myself even if I just won bronze. But I'll come back harder next SEA Games," he added.
There was no karatedo in the 2015 Games in Singapore, and the Philippines collected only 3 medals in 2013 (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze). On the first day of the 2017 edition, they've already surpassed their total from 4 years ago.
"In 2015, yes, karate was scrapped off, but it didn't stop me from training. I just continued to train a lot harder, because I know that coming in 2017, this will be my redemption in the SEA Games," he said.
The Cebu native began training in kata in 2003, with the help of his father's friend, who was instead a kumite expert. Delos Santos credits that experience for helping him master the basics.
"Good basics equals good kata," he said.
Kata sees practitioners execute a series of forms of movements before judges, and is done either individually or in pairs.
Delos Santos, the only athlete in his family, believes he's taken to kata naturally because it's a way of expressing himself – a yearning he inherited from his mother, a singer with a penchant for performing arts whom he described as "very artistic."
Delos Santos, who trained in Europe for this tournament, isn't satisfied with a bronze medal. Even before he climbed up the podium to receive his latest laurel, he's already looking ahead to the 2019 SEA Games set to be hosted in Manila.
"I can say that this bronze medal was a big feat for me, but this coming 2019, it's always been a dream for me to compete in the SEA Games in my home country," he shared.
"Because if I can recall, I was only a spectator back in the 2005 SEA Games, when I watched the national team compete. So it's like, fast-forwarding from spectator to a possible competitor in 2019, it's just amazing, I can't wait for that." – Rappler.com