Taekwando Kids
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

I bet you’ve watched Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid series.  In the latest edition, the remake starred Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, son of Will.  But have you heard of the Taekwondo Kids?  Well, two months ago, six young taekwondo jins, aged seven to seventeen, brought home seven gold and five silver medals in the 26th International Taekwondo Festival (ITF) held in Los Angeles, California.  Coach Donny Geisler said the kids trained for six long months. The medalists were Philip Jeremy Wee 7, Steven Chu 7, Francesca Macayla Geisler 9, Renzo Lao II, Claudia Ysabel Juat 17 and six-year old Ian Maximus Alapag, son of basketball star Jimmy and LJ Alapag, who won gold medals from sparring and poomsae categories. Then just recently, another Philippine Team bagged 14 medals, nine in poomsae and five in kyorugi (free sparring) in the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Amman, Jordan.  The Pinoy jins won two gold medals courtesy of Ian Corto in the authorized individual event while Paul Anthony Rodriguez and Maria Nicole Labayne won in the poomsae pair in the under-14 age division.  The other medals came from poomsae (one silver and six bronzes) and kyorugi (one silver and four bronzes). My good friend and fellow Ilonggo Monsour Del Rosario must be floating on Cloud Nine.

Rugby to Rugby

Lito Ramirez is an orphan who doesn’t even know when he was born. When his parents went missing, Lito and his brother were taken in by his uncle, a drug addict, who sent them to the streets to beg. They soon were introduced to glue-sniffing and became members of the “rugby boys”. The boys dug for food in the garbage and were constantly being chased by the police. Their lives changed for the better when a woman turned them to an orphanage and eventually ended up at Tuloy sa Don Bosco, a home that sheltered street children.  Don Bosco, a known football power, introduced Ramirez to the sport. When he was asked what sport he wants to join, he said he didn’t like basketball. But when the counselors mentioned “rugby” Ramirez said yes, thinking it was the glue. This misunderstanding was a blessing in disguise as it completely changed his life.  The 5’6” wing fullback develop into one of the most promising players and one of the few locals to land a spot on the foreign-laden Philippine National team, the Volcanoes in 2015.  Jake Letts, Philippine Rugby Football Union general manager who has watched Ramirez’ development, is all praise for the former “rugby boy”.  “Singhot ta Bai!”

Did you know?

ZOE KOPLOWITZ, a New Yorker who suffers from multiple sclerosis has the distinction of finishing last in virtually every New York City Marathon since 1988.  Koplowitz, who uses crutches, often finish the race 24 hours or more. In the 1993 edition of the race, nine-time NYC champion Grete Waitz, stood at the finish line at 6:30 in the morning, to wait for Koplowitz, a full day after the  “World’s Slowest Runner” had started the race.  Since everybody has gone home including the officials, Waitz rushed back to her hotel room and grabbed her husband’s finisher’s medaland awarded it to Koplowitz.  As of 2001, Koplowitz, an author, businesswoman and lecturer, had completed 18 marathons, including Boston and London in over 24 hours of course.

KIEPHOGE KEINO of Kenya, who suffered a gall bladder infection during the 1968 Mexico Olympics, still entered the 1,500m, the 5,000m and the 10,000m competitions. During the 10,000m, he was leading with two laps to go when he collapsed.  A stretcher was brought out but Keino got up and finished the race. Four days later, he ran in the 5,000m and took second place.  In the final race, the 1,500m, he won the gold in Olympic record time.

ERIC LIDDEL (of Chariots of Fire fame), a year after winning the 400m in the 1920 Olympics, joined his fatherin China to do missionary work.  He died of a brain tumor in a Japanese internment camp in China during World War II.

LUZ LONG of Germany, whose tips, helped his friend American Jessie Owens, win the long jump in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was killed in the Battle of St. Pietra on July 14, 1943. 

PAUL NEWMAN was kicked out from the Kenyon College JV  Football team for brawling.  His co-star in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “the Sting”, Robert Redford, was kicked out from the University of Colorado baseball team for drinking and missing practice.  Newman, a car racer, in real life, came in second in the 1979 Le Mans 24 hour race.  Steve Mc Queen starred in the movie Le Mans and thrilled moviegoers with his racing prowess in Bullitt where he drove a vintage Mustang GT against a Dodge Charger in the streets of San Francisco.

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