ONE Strawweight World Title contender Rene “The Challenger” Catalan keeps taking on new challenges in his already-storied career as a martial artist.
14 years since he last won a gold medal in wushu for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games, the 40-year-old Iloilo City native has once again made himself available to represent the nation — except this time, it will be in the sport of sambo.
“It’s been fourteen years. I am just so happy to be given the opportunity to represent the Philippines once again,” said Catalan, who also won a gold medal in the 2006 Asian Games in the sport of wushu.
“Ever since I was a kid, my main goal has always been to give honor to my country. Now, I have another opportunity to bring home a gold medal to the Philippines.”
One of the most decorated athletes in the country, the 2006 Philippine Sportswriters Association Athlete Of The Year is treating this event as his swan song.
He plans to focus on coaching the national team full-time moving forward.
“I saw that I have a good chance of bringing home a medal, so I decided to compete one more time,” Catalan shared.
“Next year, I’ll be focusing on coaching the national team in sambo combat. That’s why I’ll definitely give my all to guarantee a gold medal in my last stint in the SEA Games.”
Though known as a wushu practitioner, there is no question about Catalan’s credentials in sambo.
Last year, he made his presence felt in the region when he captured the gold medal in the first Southeast Asian Sambo Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As the old adage goes, youth knows no age, and that’s exactly what Catalan is proving to everyone.
“They saw my dedication in the sport, and maybe that’s why they chose me to represent the country. Maybe my performance last year in Indonesia also played a factor in their decision,” he said.
“Not everyone is given a chance to represent the country. That’s why I’m going to work double-time in training sessions, so I can repay the trust that the country has given me.”