ANKARA, Turkey — The Philippine sanda team cornered four final round seats and captured three bronze medals as the 11th Wushu World Championships come to a scintillating finale on Friday at the Ankara Sports Arena.
Light and short Filipino warriors delivered the heaviest and loftiest results when surprise packages Jessie Aligaga (48 kgs) and Dembert Arcita (52 kgs.), who both had two fights on the same day, advanced to the fight for gold on Friday evening against Armenian Davit Grigoryan and Hoang Hong Tu of Vietnam respectively.
Early morning of Thursday, Aligaga took out Sri Lanka’s Lakshman Gunasekara and soon after Arcita dominated Gulshian of India. In the evening session and semi final round, Aligaga dropped Egyptian Ahmet Hama to his knees with a crisp right straight for the clear win while Arcita rallied from one round down to repeat on former victim, South Korean Jung Woo Seo.
Arcita was given immediate medical attention after the bout as he ran out of air and felt dizzy. He was cleared by the organizers’ doctor to fight on Friday.
“Ibinuhos ko na lahat kasi talo ako sa first round kaya naubusan ako ng hangin,” Arcita said.
Joining them from the distaff side are former Asian champion Mary Jane Estimar and Marianne Mariano, a silver medallist in the 2008 Olympics when wushu was presented as a demonstration sport by host Beijing.
Estimar will face training buddy Qiu Tiao in the 52 kgs class and Mariano takes on Liu Lingling in the 56 kgs category, two opponents representing China, the originator of the combat discipline.
“Syempre buhos na lahat. Mahirap na laban ito dahil dati na rin naming sila nakakalaban sa training sa China, kaya alam nila ang galaw namin” projected Estimar, who made the finals after pummelling bouncy Frenchwoman Sarah Belala.
Not as fortunate in the four out of seven semi final output of the Filipinos were Mark Eddiva (65 kgs), Rhea Mae Rifani and Benjie Rivera (56 kgs).
Eddiva, hounded by a loss a year ago to the same rival, failed to control his grit and execute a game plan and yielded anew to Mohammadseifi Mohsen of Iran, a nation clearly bent on challenging China’s dominance of the sport more so in the heavier weight divisions.
“Para kasing nanggigil ako at gusto kong tapusin ang laban sa isang patama lang,” admitted Eddiva, who will get a bronze along with Rifani and Rivera.
An old knee injury prevented Rifani from completing the semi final bout against India’s Sanathoi Devi and her Chinese coach did not want to risk aggravation as the Filipina is still eyeing a slot in the November Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.
Rivera could not advance against the wily and elusive Li Kang of China.
The Philippines, perceived here as one side of the sanda “power four”, the three being China, Iran and host Turkey, now has four bronze medals.
Tai chi bronze medallist Daniel Parantac managed only 9th place out of 36 in men’s taiji quan of taolu and brother Denver and Thornton Sayan finished outside the first 20 of the 47-man nandao event.
The taolu squad will make its last bid for medals when Asian juniors gold medallist John Keithley Chan, Eleazar Jacob and Engelbert Addongan team up for the dulian event (fight routine with weapons). In the women’s side of the event are Kariza Chan, Kathleen Sabalburo and Nathasa Enriquez.
Only two of the nine members of the Philippine sanda team— veteran Edward Folayang and first-timer Francisco Solis—will return home without a medal.