SEA games update serious training for Pinoy karatekas
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A former world champion from Turkey is on board to coach the Philippine karate team in kumite or sparring while coaches Chino Veguillas and Rhod Saavedra take care of the kata or form specialists as preparations are now in full swing for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games late this year.

Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation (KPSF) president Ricky Lim said yesterday those in kumite are training in Istanbul with coach Okay Arpa who won the gold medal at the World Championships in 2008.

Arpa, 42, joined the Philippine coaching staff last June and brought 15 karatekas to Istanbul for a two-month training.

Last weekend, the karatekas competed at the Amator Spor Haftasi Championships in Sakarya, Turkey, with PBA legend Samboy Lim’s daughter Jamie, a summa cum laude graduate of UP, capturing the gold in the senior female -68 kg kumite.

Other Filipino podium finishers were silver medalists Rexor Tacay, Ivan Agustin and Miyuki Tacay and bronze medalists Mae Soriano, Eugene Dagohoy, Prince Alejo and Sharief Afif.

In Osaka, Veguillas and Saavedra are supervising the kata competitors.

The training in Japan is also for two months.

“Our karate team is right on track with their training and we’ll be expecting their best performance in the coming SEA Games,” said Lim.

“We’re confident of our chances to win gold medals. I just don’t know how many we’ll bring in. Right now, we’re focusing on strength and conditioning with Sonny Montalbo who’s also our bet in the -55 kg kumite. There’s no question we’ll be ready in terms of accuracy and we’re excited to see positive results as a result of our conditioning program.”

Lim said Arpa will be involved in choosing the athletes to represent the country in the SEA Games.

“We’ve submitted our list by name to the POC but we can still make changes just before the competition,” he said.

 “We’re keeping the names close to our chest so as not to tip off our opponents. We’re giving our coaches the free hand to pick our athletes, based on performance. When Okay joined us, he saw the need to reinforce our women in the heavier divisions. We called in four women, including Jamie who dropped out of karate because of her studies but now that she’s graduated, we invited her back. Jamie won the gold in a tournament we organized and we included her in the training pool for Turkey. She has a good chance of competing in the SEA Games because of her recent wins.”

Lim said other karatekas under consideration are Jayson Macaalay, Rexor Tacoy, Oliver Manalac, Fil-Japanese Juna Tsukii and Fil-Am Joane Orbon.

The existing national pool supported by PSC lists 17 men and 13 women.

For the coming SEA Games, there will be 13 gold medals at stake, seven for men and six for women.

The men’s divisions are -55 kg, -60, -67, -75 and +75 for kumite and individual and team kata.

The women’s divisions are -50 kg, -55, -61, +61 for kumite and individual and team kata.

“We initially submitted a list of 17 events but it was trimmed down to 13,” said Lim, a bronze medalist in kata at the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games.

“We didn’t win a gold medal in karate in the last three SEA Games and the last was in 2013 when Ramon Franco of Tacloban topped the men’s 55 kg kumite. In the 2017 SEA Games, we took three silvers and four bronzes with 16 gold medals at stake. In the 2018 Asian Games, we sent six athletes and only Juna landed on the podium with a bronze in -50 kg kumite.”

Lim was elected KPSF president in May last year and was formally recognized by the World Karate Federation (WKF) Congress last November.

A WKF official attended the election which was affirmed by the POC as compliant with its rules.

The WKF Congress disenfranchised the previous karate NSA and cleared the way for KPSF’s full recognition.

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