TAIPEI: Wushu star Jomar Balangui saved the day for Team Philippines as he defeated American Isiah Ray Enriquez, 2-0, and assured himself of at least a silver medal in the 2017 Summer World University Games at the Hsinchu County gym.
Balangui’s lopsided 5-0, 3-0 triumph over Enriquez in the men’s sanda-52 kg event provided the brightest moment for the Filipinos, who looked headed to a medal-less finish going into the final day of the competitions also known as the ‘Olympics’ of university athletes. In fact, Balangui’s silver medal may turn out to be a gold medal depending on the outcome of his final match.
Balangui, the 19-year old campaigner from University of Baguio, will dispute the gold medal with Peng Yuan of China.
Yuan outduelled Seongji Byron of South Korea, 5-0, 5-0 in the other men’s sanda 52-kg semifinal on Monday.
“This is another big achievement for our country. Win or lose by Jomar in the wushu final, we are already assured of a medal in Taipei,” said Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) President David Ong.
“The wushu medal—be it a gold or a silver—will be a good addition to our gold medal in chess by GM Wesley So in the 2013 Kazan Universiade and the silver medal in taekwondo by Samuel Thomas Morrison in the 2011 Shenzhen Universiade,” added Ong.
The rest of the seven-man Filipino wushu team also supported by San Miguel Corp., Bestank and Garfield Sportswear, failed to make it to the medal round of the wushu competitions being included as an official sport in the Universiade calendar for the first time ever.
Barely losing their matches were Erick Earl Pasno (men’s sanda/60-kg); Kelly Marcelo (men’s sanda/70-kg); Elijah Sean Siy (men’s taolu -changquan); Gladys Sia (women’s taolu- changquan); Czarina Joy Hagos (women’s taolu- nanquan/nandao) and Abigail Faniega (women’s taolu -jianshu/ qiangshu).
As a sport, wushu reached a new height during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is a sport that calls for physical fitness and combat skills and cultivates will power.