Despite giving birth just a week ago, Gina Iniong wants to get back on the mats and train with her family at Team Lakay.
Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao himself made the assertion, since Iniong wants to tell all the Filipino martial arts fans that she has every intent to return to action.
“When she’s all fit to start her training, then she’s back,” Sangiao confirmed regarding Iniong’s willingness to continue her career.
Iniong has been out of action for months after announcing that she and husband Richard Araos were expecting with their first child. Just this week, Iniong gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Gianna Rose.
Due to this, Iniong recently dropped from the ONE Athlete rankings, with Thailand’s Stamp Fairtex taking her place due to inactivity.
Iniong laid all the debate to rest on whether or not she wanted to return to competition in a recent interview. Sangiao believes Iniong is targeting a slot in the eight-woman ONE Atomweight Grand Prix.
“Actually, she’s very eager to be in the Atomweight Grand Prix, but she needs to be patient and approach it at the right time. I have no doubt she will be better than ever. Gina is very much motivated. She’s focused and determined,” said Sangiao.
“We have seen how Gina performs in the ring or in the Circle, and she’s capable of anything. She has great wins facing some outstanding athletes. Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement. But she’s eager to learn and enhance her skills. I think fans will be happy when she returns. If she can get a spot in the tournament, we will do our best to prepare her.”
Although no details have yet been confirmed, athletes projected to participate in the Atomweight Grand Prix include Stamp Fairtex, Mei Yamaguchi, Meng Bo, and Itsuki Hirata, as well as top-ranked atomweight Denice Zamboanga.
Along with many Filipino fans, Sangiao witnessed Zamboanga’s rise to becoming the division’s top contender. Still, he feels the 23-year-old needs a few more wins under her belt to really round out into a star. The Team Lakay head coach also said it wouldn’t be a problem if Iniong faced Zamboanga somewhere down the line.
“She (Denice) has had a few good wins in ONE. She has that potential, but I think she still needs more experience. With a little more experience, she can be very dangerous in this sport,” said Sangiao.
“We don’t say no to any fight offers from ONE. It won’t be the first time a Filipino will face a fellow Filipino. If they give Denice to Gina, then so be it. Gina has the maturity in the battle scene and in Team Lakay, we have that sense of always being positive. So if the match happens, we have high hopes for Gina.”