Story by Justin Valencia
With the local sporting scene paralyzed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, athletes needed to find ways to keep their competitive juices flowing and stay in shape.
Luckily for local jins, the Philippine Taekwondo Association came up with various online competitions for their athletes.
Speaking on Tiebreaker Vods’ So She Did!, presented by SMART, Pauline Lopez, Jocel Ninobla, Rinna Babanto, and Nikka Oliva revealed the adjustments they had to make for the online tilts, despite reaping medals.
So She Did S01E10: Kicking it with Pauline Lopez and the Poomsae Team
They hauled medals during the 2019 SEA Games?
Martie Bautista and birthday girl Trina Guytingco are kicking it with Philippine Taekwondo Association lady jins Pauline Lopez, Rinna Babanto, Jocel Ninobla, and Nikki Oliva right now!
Posted by Tiebreaker Times on Sunday, August 23, 2020
“Actually, my first choice — or my only choice in my radar — was La Salle,” said the two-time UAAP featherweight gold medalist in the vodcast hosted by Martie Bautista and Trina Guytingco.
“‘Yung process po nakaka-frustrate,” said Ninobla, who lorded over the Female Under-30 category of the 2020 Daedo Online European Poomsae.
“If hindi mo magustuhan ‘yung takes mo, parang paulit-ulit lang kasi hindi ka masa-satisfy sa video na makikita mo, and then you try again. Ang hirap mag-stop minsan.”
Meanwhile, for Lopez, who won the 2019 SEA Games gold medalist in the 57kg weight class, joining the speed kicking competition was an entirely new experience.
Used to having an opponent to hit, Lopez still felt the pressure of having to win because that’s what’s expected from a national athlete.
“I have no one to hit so it is completely different for me. I still felt the pressure though because if you’re in the national team, it’s like you’re expected to win,” said Lopez, who eventually snagged gold in the black female senior featherweight category of the 2020 SMART/MVPSF Online National Taekwondo Speed Kicking Championships.
Oliva, who usually competes in the poomsae freestyle category, tried the speed kicking tournament this time since her event was not included in the online tourneys.
And she accepted the challenge gracefully, winning the gold medal in the black female senior fin-flyweight category.
“Sumali po ako noong speed kicking competition kahit poomsae player ako kasi ‘yung main event ko sa national team is freestyle. So pinasali kami ng coach namin for experience din,” said Oliva.
But more than the medals and awards they bagged and will be bagging soon, joining these online competitions are somehow a way of the national athletes to inspire other taekwondo jins.
Babanto said these tourneys encourage people to join despite the lack of equipment and resources.
“Goal po namin mag-inspire ng mga kabataan ngayon. Para ma-practice pa rin ‘yung forms nila kahit na walang gyms, walang mats… At least nakikita nila kami rin nagpe-perform,” said the La Salle product.
“Kailangan namin mag-set ng example sa ibang athletes. We need to inspire them na kahit na naka-lockdown, kailangan pa rin mag-training. Kailangan gawin ‘yung best sa competition,” Oliva added.
Babanto won silver in the female senior category of 2020 SMART/MVPSF Online National Taekwondo Inter-school Poomsae Championships, where Ninobla also grabbed the gold.
Lopez, meanwhile, likes the idea of these tournaments by PTA as upstart taekwondo athletes from the provinces have the chance to showcase their skills and talents.
“It was pretty fun! You never know who’s gonna win, and you get to meet new players from different provinces that you never knew was like that good.”