Asian champions Annie Ramirez and Apryl Jessica Eppinger were booted out of the medals race early, both losing their first matches in their maiden appearance in the ju-jitsu Newaza Women’s -62 kgs class in the 18th Asian Games on Saturday at the Jakarta Convention Center.
Ramirez, 28, couldn’t flash the form that won her the Newaza -55 kgs gold in last year’s Asian championships in Hanoi, and bowed to a stocky Kira Sung of Korea in the round of 16, 0-21.
“I am so sorry po kasi talagang mas mabigat siya sa akin,” said Ramirez, who used to win in the -55 kgs but had to gain seven pounds just to to make the weight category.
“Nahirapan po ako gumalaw dahil hindi ko po kasi talaga weight class ang 62kg. Pinilit ko lang po kasi iyun lang ang category para sa mga babae dito sa Asian Games,” confessed Ramirez, a Physical Education graduate at University of Santo Tomas.
Ramirez also took the gold in last year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in the same Newaza -55 kgs class.
Eppinger, who played in the 2010 Asian Games as a track cyclist, was also shown the door by Thailand’s Onanong Sangsirichok, 3-0. The Thai is a world championships veteran and current Asian champion.
“It is really a different level here in the Asian Games,” said the Filipino-Australian Eppinger, nicknamed “The Wolf” in the ju-jitsu world. “We were surprised that our rivals stepped up and improved a lot.”
Carlos Pena also failed to sustain his impressive, 10-0 victory in the round of 16 against Calvin Chua of Singapore in the Newaza Men’s -62 kgs, as he lost his quarterfinal bout with world and Asian champion Darkhan Nortayev of Kazakhstan, 0-2.