SEAG gold worth the sacrifice for lady jin Pauline Lopez
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 16, 2015 10:38 AM
Before actually competing, I haven't spoken to my family for about a week because it's our little ritual so that I can focus --- Pauline Lopez (Photo courtesy Pal Pillai/SINGSOC)
SINGAPORE -- Pauline Lopez considers her gold medal in the taekwondo competition of the 28th Southeast Asian Games as a fruit of a ritual she does whenever a major tournament is on its way.
A 19-year old stunner from California, Lopez said that she detaches herself from her family and friend days leading to a major tournament such as the SEA Games. In fact, she didn't communicate with her parents for one week to keep her focus on winning the gold.
The ritual paid off as she dominated Pham Thi Thu Hien of Vietnam with crisp kicks and blows in the gold-medal match of the women's -57 kilogram lateÂÂ SundayÂÂ at the Singapore Expo Hall 1 here.
"Before actually competing, I haven't spoken to my family for about a week because it's our little ritual so that I can focus," she said. "So when I told them that I already won the gold medal, it was all overwhelming and my parents had tears of joy."
The road to the gold medal had never been easy for Lopez.
After failing in the Asian Games in Incheon, she trained hard with a noted Korean coach in Jun Ho before flying to Chelyabinsk, Russia to compete in the World Taekwondo Championship.
She failed to win a medal.
But she won valuable experience for the ultimate war ahead -- the SEA Games.
"I lost my second fight against Belgium, but that tournament actually taught me a lot on how I can improve my game and step it up for the SEA Games."
"I realized that there are still so many things to tweak on my game."
In the biennial meet, Lopez was a picture of determination as she clobbered Sonesavanh Sirimanotham of Laos to book a gold-medal clash with the Vietnamese jin -- the same foe she demolished in the Philippine Open in Iloilo early this year.
"I was confident enough but not overconfident that getting that gold medal was not too far to reach," she said. "It feels amazing. All the hard work we've been putting is has finally paid off."
And now that a SEA Games gold medal is on her hand, her next destination will be the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
"That's my ultimate goal," she said. "I want to represent the country as long as I can until I finally earn a spot in the 2020 Olympic Games."