Jojie Pajaron saved the day for the six-man Philippine team after bagging the bronze medal in the 48 kilograms weight class in the recently concluded 2017 International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.
Pajaron was the last man standing among the Filipino fighters, who earlier lost in their matches and failed to reach the medal round of the competition where over 700 athletes from 80 countries competed.
Pajaron lost to Bakytzhan Arifkhanov of Kazakhstan, who finished second. Vietnamese stalwart Le Hoang Duc won the gold medal in their division.
Though the national squad earned only a medal, Muaythai Association of the Philippines (MAP) Secretary-General Pearl Managuelod was satisfied with the achievement of Pajaron.
“Our small giant earned the respect of the world muaythai community when he bagged the bronze medal in the 48kgs,” said Managuelod.
Managuelod is optimistic that the Filipino squad could do more if provided with proper training and nutrition.
The senior team players are busy preparing for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in August while the junior players are gearing up for the IFMA World Youth Championships in Thailand, also scheduled in August.
“[We can] prove to the world that we might be a small country, but in the field of play, we are just as big and strong as the rest of the world,” she added,
After the two international competitions, the national squad is set to see action in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan in September.
“We are very positive that we can perform well in our next competition,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, MAP hopes to find new talents when it stages its annual National Open from May 19 to 22 at the Elorde Sports Complex in Sucat, Parañaque.
The second leg of the National Open will give aspiring fighters from National Capital Region a chance to become part of the national team if they advance to the National Championships slated December this year.
The inaugural Open was held last March in Baguio, the Visayas leg will be in Dumaguete in July while the Mindanao leg will be held in Davao in September.
“We want to look for new talents that are potential achievers for our team,” said Managuelod.