Pinoy karatekas gearing up for 2017 SEA Games

ABS-CBN Sports on May 31, 2016 06:33 PM
Pinoy karatekas gearing up for 2017 SEA Games
OJ Delos Santos, silver medal winner in the Vietnam Open, could make his return in next year's Southeast Asian Games after winning a silver and bronze in Jakarta back in 2011 with the inclusion of karate in the biennial meet.

The return of karate in next year’s Southeast Asian Games could open a new gold mine for the Philippines.

And the PHI karate team is already gearing up this early.

The ‘Philippine Typhoons’ whipped up a storm in Thanh Hoa, Vietnam recently after Jaime Villegas and Joco Vasquez captured two gold medals in the Vietnam Open karate tournament.

Villegas won in the kata junior male division, while Vasquez did the same in the kata cadet male division of the meet held from May 23-27 and attracted a total of 11 countries.

Six other Filipino entries also accounted for silver and bronze medals, respectively, which Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF) secretary general and coach Raymund Lee Reyes said should augurs well to the country’s campaign in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpurt, Malaysia when karate makes its return in the biennial meet.

“This is part of our preparation for the 2017 SEA Games,” said Lee in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday at Shakey’s Malate.

Villegas and Vasquez brought with them their gold medals in the session and was joined by Lee, foreign coach Ali Parvinfar, and the other medalists in the five-day event.

The Filipino karatekas won a gold the last time they competed in the SEA Games in 2013 held in Myanmar courtesy of Ramon Antonino Franco. Karate was not included in the sports calendar of the meet when Singapore hosted it in 2015.

With the sport poised for a SEA Games return, Lee said it is imperative for the Typhoons to start preparing as early as possible. Participating in a camp in Turkey is already being lined up, while other members of the team are set to see action in the coming Korea Open.

The rest of the Filipino medalists in the Vietnam Open include silver winners Cris Kawaen (kata junior male), OJ Delos Santos (kata senior), and Randy Padua Jr (kumite junior +78 kg), and bronze winners Leigh Cuadra (kata female junior and kumite female junior), Angel Aguilar (female junior kumite -53 kg), and Andrei Dela Cruz (kumite cadet).

Aside from the Philippines and the host country, others which saw action include Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Macau, Laos.

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