ONE Championship: Rene Catalan returns to SEA Games action this year
ABS-CBN Sports on May 30, 2019 02:48 PM
“If there is a chance to bring honor to the country, whether you’re young or old, don’t put it to waste." - Rene Catalan (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
Rene "The Challenger" Catalan is gunning for gold in his return to the Southeast Asian Games, which the Philippines will be hosting from 30 November to 11 December.
Catalan is all too familiar with the SEA Games, having represented the country multiple times in the past.
The 40-year-old last bagged an SEA Games gold medal in wushu in 2005 — and now he’s back donning the national team colors. This time, however, he will be competing in sambo.
He may be competing in a different sport, but he is nonetheless motivated to settle some unfinished business at the prestigious event.
“My time with the wushu national team was cut short when I was 26 years old. I was asked to retire to give way to other athletes,” Catalan said.
“I was just starting in wushu back then. I had dreams of becoming a ten-time wushu champion and to bring home numerous gold medals to the Philippines, but I had no other choice because they’re the authority (the Wushu Federation of the Philippines).
“I felt bad. I was in the peak of my powers, but they forced me to retire from the wushu team. They were seeing how much I sacrificed, but it fell on deaf ears.”
In the ONE Championship Circle, Catalan is currently riding a six-bout win streak and has emerged as one of the top contenders for the ONE Strawweight World Title.
Both careers are important to him, and he insists there is not going to be a conflict in his dreams of becoming a ONE World Champion and multiple-time gold medallist as a national team member.
“I had to ask the authorities regarding this decision. I can still accept a fight until October before I turn my focus to the SEA Games,” Catalan said.
“They granted my request because I am ready from August to October, and then the competitions would only run ‘til December.
“Now that I have this chance to give a gold medal to the Philippines again, I can’t really say no.”
At age 40, Catalan’s goals are pretty much set.
For “The Challenger,” it’s a gold medal and a ONE World Championship.
“When I compete with ONE, the goal is still bringing home honor and glory to the Philippines. Personally, my main goal is a World Title shot,” he said.
“If there is a chance to bring honor to the country, whether you’re young or old, don’t put it to waste."