After a year of grueling training backed by improved financial support, the University of the Philippines (UP) Taekwondo Poomsae Varsity Team basked in triumph as they placed third overall, behind a bronze medal for the men’s team and a gold medal for the women’s, in the UAAP Season 82 Taekwondo Tournament today at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym.
The Women’s Team, composed of Patricia Jubelag, Gretel Delos Martirez and Kate Castillo, clinched the championship with a final round average of 8.035. The team scored 8.00 and 8.07 in the first and second forms respectively, effectively sweeping the women’s finals.
On the other side, the Men’s Team took home third place, despite leading the field at the end of the semifinals. The team, led by Juanito Sandoy, Lyan Joseph Llanto, and Jayboy Buenavista, scored 7.90 in the first form and 7.83 in the second, giving them an average of 7.865 in the final round.
Along with the team victories, Jubelag and Llanto placed silver and bronze in the women’s and men’s individual categories, respectively. Jubelag had a score of 8.030, while Llanto had a score of 7.900.
In the final moments before the podium awarding, the team shed tears in a bittersweet moment, as all of the players except for Castillo are in their graduating year at the university. Alongside this, despite being graduating students, it was also Delos Martirez’s first poomsae tournament in the UAAP – one that she capped off with a gold medal.
The bronze placement is a repeat finish for the Poomsae Team, and one that Coach Janice Lizardo credits to the team’s hard work. She said that despite the challenge of being pit against National Team-level players, her squads showed up.
Lizardo also credited the victory to an improved training system implemented by her and Coach Nikki Oliva. The new training scheme involved upgraded body weights, such as ankle and wrist weights, and other kinds of equipment care of key sponsors from the UP community.
“I think [the improved training] paid off this year,” she said. “But we aim for the first place every year, so we’re not going to stop.”
Lizardo said that she hopes the victory shows just why more people should come to support the poomsae team.
“Sometimes people might think [Poomsae] is easy, because there’s no contact, but it’s really hard,” she said. “Training is hard, and the pressure of performing in front of people. It’s a different feeling, so I hope people can keep supporting and respecting these athletes.”