Team Lakay banners PH’s successful SEA Games kickboxing campaign
MANILA, Philippines – From the bright lights of the mixed martial arts (MMA) stage to international wushu sanda competitions, Mark Sangiao’s winning formula has never failed to produce a world champion or gold medalist.
Sangiao – an exciting combatant who also boasts an illustrious track record as kingmaker – proved to be ready when the Philippines came calling for his services once more.
As the Team Lakay lynchpin, Sangiao produced the same type of magic that catapulted him into prominence as both MMA and wushu coach when he helped steer kickboxing's golden run in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Iniong, who competes as an atomweight mixed martial artist under the ONE Championship banner, put on an all-around performance, shutting down Thailand’s Apichaya Mingkhwan en route to a 3-0 win in the women’s 55-kilogram kick light category.
Saclag also emerged triumphant in the finals of the men’s 63.5kg low kick tournament, defeating “Jordan Boy” Mohammed Bin Mahmoud of Malaysia with a 3-0 decision.
Olsim, meanwhile, copped the sport's first gold medal in the men’s 69kg kick light competition.
The Philippines also took home silver medals courtesy of Renalyn Daquel in the women's 48kg full contact bracket and Jomar Balangui in the men's 54kg lock kick competition.
Karol Maguide scored the team’s lone bronze in the men's 51kg full contact tourney.
With a total of 3 golds in a 6-medal haul, the Philippines wrapped up its kickboxing crusade at 2nd place behind a Vietnam side that finished with 4 gold medals.
Despite Sangiao’s mastery of MMA and wushu, several pundits were skeptical about his wards’ transition to kickboxing.
However, the Team Lakay head coach proved his doubters wrong again.
“There will always be naysayers whether it’s MMA, wushu or kickboxing. I am just happy that we were able to do a great job in the SEA Games," Sangiao said. "Their hard work paid off. Their victory is also my victory.”
In true Team Lakay fashion, Sangiao’s prized pupils looked a step ahead on all fronts against their foreign opposition, drawing a thunderous chorus of cheers from the crowd inside Pasay City’s Cuneta Astrodome.
“Team Lakay is known for producing fights that are entertaining. Not only that, striking has been our bread and butter. I believe those two factors were our edge in this competition,” he said.
“What we all [saw in the SEA Games] were just the fruits of their hard labor and their dedication to improve their craft.”
Sangiao also remained open to take the role of head coach in the national team’s future campaigns.
“If we will be working with the right people again, why not?”
“I would like to keep things positive,” he added. “I’ve done my part as a coach, and this feat proves that I’ve done my job the right way.”
Sangio is now preparing for the busy month of January as 5 of his Team Lakay fighters will return to action as part of ONE Championship's "Fire & Fury" event.
Joshua Pacio will put his strawweight title on the line against former champion Alex Silva of Brazil in the headliner.
Meanwhile, two-time lightweight titleholder Eduard Folayang is set to lock horns with Pakistan's Ahmed Mujtaba in the co-main event of the evening.
Danny Kingad will battle China's Xie Wei in a three-round flyweight bout, while strawweight Lito Adiwang will duke it out with Thailand's Pongsiri Mitsatit.
Iniong is also slated to square off with India's Asha Roka. – Rappler.com