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Samboy's girl bags karate golds

Jamie Lim in kata action and with (inset) proud parents Samboy and Lelen.

MANILA, Philippines - Basketball legend Samboy Lim’s 12-year-old daughter and only child Jamie Christine is making her mark in sports as one of the country’s rising stars in karate.

Jamie, a brown belter, recently won a pair of gold medals in the 12-13 age group of individual kumite (sparring) and kata (form) at the 3rd Asia Cup karate championships in Kuala Lumpur. Her harvest boosted the Philippine team’s haul to six gold, two silver and three bronze medals for third place overall.

Last July, Jamie claimed the gold medal in kumite in the 12-13 bracket at the 18th Kobe-Osaka International World Cup in Sarawak, Malaysia. She also picked up a silver in the mixed category of team kumite and a bronze in kata as the Philippines finished fifth of 25 countries in the competition.

“I want to continue to train hard and always give my best,” said Jamie, a Grade 6 honor student at the Immaculate Conception Academy in Greenhills. “I hope to travel to different countries and learn more about other people and at the same time, compete. I hope that I can get the best education in college so I can serve to be a good citizen of the world.”

Aside from sports, Jamie excels in academics and is in the top 10 of her section in school. She recently won a second straight Kumon Mathematics gold award for students who are considered at least three years advanced in the subject.

But it’s in sports, particularly karate, where Jamie is in her elements.

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“What I like most in karate is training with my friends and winning tournaments,” she said. “What I like least is losing or getting hit. When I win, I feel happy because that means my hard training paid off. When I lose, I feel sad because my best was not good enough and I know I have to train harder.”

Jamie said it was her mother Lelen, a lawyer, who opened her eyes to karate for self-defense.

“At first, I didn’t like it at all,” she admitted. “I didn’t like it because I wanted to play rather than get hurt in training. Later on, I enjoyed it and continued it as my sport.”

Jamie has been training regularly in both kata and kumite since she was six. She attends advanced kata class every Friday evening at the AAK (Association for the Advancement of Karate-do) fifth floor gym in SM Megamall, regular karate class in AAK Ateneo every Saturday morning, another class in AAK Megamall on Saturday afternoon and advanced kumite class, also in AAK Megamall on Saturday evening. The regimen has been part of Jamie’s schedule the last three years.

“Jamie is training hard to be an accomplished athlete,” said Lelen. “Tournaments are very stressful and for Jamie to overcome the stress and come out giving her best is just awesome for a child. The discipline in her sport has permeated in her other activities – in her studies, way of thinking and values. She’s a good kid and turning out to be a fine person. She’s an only child and even if we lavish her with love, she has never acted bratty – she’s polite, kind-hearted and level-headed.”

Lelen called Jamie “a real gift to Samboy and me.” She added: “I am most proud to be Jamie’s mom. I’m the one who goes with her in every tournament, taking her pictures and video, giving her tips on how to overcome nervousness and how to recover from a loss and psyching her to prepare for a match. I love this role and to see her achieve what she is achieving.”

For Samboy, it’s a dream come true for his daughter to represent the country in sports like he used to in basketball.

“I’m proud of Jamie for becoming a world champion at an early age, something I never achieved,” said Samboy who played on the last Philippine team that won the FIBA-Asia championship in 1986 under coach Ron Jacobs.

“I train hard for my parents,” said Jamie. “I want them to be proud of me when I do my best in tournaments. It also makes me feel good that I train hard and achieve something while other kids are focusing on computers or TV or playing. But of course, I try to have a balance of training, studies and playing.”

In February last year, Jamie won a gold medal in individual kumite at the Philippines-Japan tournament in the Mall of Asia and certified her reputation as a consistent champion in Super Karate Kids at SM Supermalls which holds tournaments every other month. In September that same year, Jamie pocketed golds in kumite and kata at the first Sports Master Athletics Karate-do Asia-Pacific Open Championships in Singapore in the 9-11 age group.

The 5-4, 95-pound rising star credited her training with the AAK Megamall club headed by Shihan Manuel (Pocholo) Veguillas for the medals she has so far earned. She thanked her coaches Richard Anthony Lim, Rex Resurreccion and Juan Carlos (Chino) Veguillas for their patience and guidance.

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