Younger athletes — particularly in the world of Filipino martial arts — usually look to former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang for hope.
But after seeing young athletes in the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games, it is Folayang who feels hopeful for the future of the sport he loves so much.
His stablemates from Team Lakay — ONE women’s atomweight star Gina “Conviction” Iniong, ONE Warrior Series mainstay Jerry “Bokodian Warrior” Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag — all took home gold medals, while others snagged podium finishes in Muay Thai.
On the other hand, his cousin Divine Wally also won gold in wushu.
Folayang remains convinced that the future of martial arts in the Philippines is in good hands.
“Team Lakay had three representatives in kickboxing, and all of them won gold. Meanwhile, some younger members who competed in Muay Thai also won medals — a silver and a bronze,” Folayang said.
“It’s an inspirational feat because, who knows? Maybe we’ll be producing more national team representatives in martial arts who would bring honor to the country in the future. We’re looking forward to becoming a home to champions for our country.”
Distance was not an issue for “Landslide”, a three-time SEA Games Gold medalist. He went back and forth from his hometown of Baguio City to Metro Manila to support his competing family and teammates.
In the end, it was all worth it for the Filipino veteran. Not only did his teammates dominate in their respective martial arts competitions, the Philippines expectedly ruled the whole event as hosts.
“I went up and down the mountains of Baguio to support the different teams. I went down to support the wushu team because my cousin was there, went back up the mountains, and then went back down to support the kickboxers,” Folayang said.
“It was all worth it, though. The best thing about it is that we won in the overall standings when it was all over.”
Now, it is Folayang’s turn to compete as he makes his return in ONE Championship’s first event in the Philippines for 2020.
Folayang battles Ahmed “Wolverine” Mujtaba at ONE: Fire and Fury at the Mall Of Asia Arena on January 31.
Coming off a less-than-satisfying technical decision win over Amarsaana “Spear” Tsooogokhuu at ONE: Masters of Fate on November 8, Folayang plans to impress fans this time around.
“I think reaching for a World Title is still a goal. After all, why would I want to win if I wasn’t looking to challenge for the World Title? I understand that I need to work my way back up again, but I want to prepare myself to have the best year of my life in the upcoming year.”
In the meantime, The Home Of Martial Arts returns to action on January 10 for ONE: A New Tomorrow at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
Catch all the action live and for free on the ONE Super App.
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