Heroine is world champ

By: Inquirer.net November 26,2018 - 03:14 PM

Fighting to help save kids back home, Meggie Ochoa makes history in Sweden

She pours every ounce of energy in her 100-pound frame to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

It was a battle she marked as hers when, after deep reflection, she found her life’s purpose.

“God created me for this particular calling, to do something about this particular issue,” Meggie Ochoa told the Inquirer, referring to her advocacy to save children from the clutches of sex predators.

She has a bigger platform to push her initiative now.

The 28-year-old Philippine jiujitsu queen made history after becoming the first Filipino world champion of her sport at the 2018 Jiu-Jitsu World Championships in Malmö, Sweden, in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Almost a day later, she told the Inquirer the feeling hadn’t sunk in yet.

“Maybe this will all sink in when I fly back home,” she said in jest.

Ochoa, who uses her sport to shine the light on sexual violence against children and recently launched the “Fight to Protect” campaign, defeated Canadian Ni Ni Vicky Hoang, 2-0, to become the country’s lone gold medalist in the event.

Ochoa is also a three-time gold winner in the Brazilian jiujitsu world championships—but that was not as stringent as her recent feat.

“The IBJJF worlds was categorized by weight and by belt,” she said in Filipino.

“This one, all belts compete in every weight category.”

It was during one of those global IBJFF conquests that she began searching for meaning in her collection of medals and Ochoa believes it was divine intervention that drew her to the plight of children who fall victim to predators, particular to those in the online world.

“It was my first time to compete for the national team—the first time I represented the Philippines. I was 26,” she recounted before departing for Sweden. “The venue was so humid and I was running on fumes.”

“I was playing in my third or fourth match that day. My last. As soon as my opponent and I dapped, I was caught into a choke,” she recalls. “Lupaypay ako (I was gassed).”

“While in the lock, I was thinking, praying to the Lord, ‘Please, please help me,’” she said. “I can’t exactly remember how I did it but after I slipped out of the choke, after I regained control of my back, I was suddenly on guard. Then we scrambled anew, enabling me to catch her into a triangle choke. She tapped out. I was thinking ‘how was that even possible?’”

According to Meggie, it was a lesson on resolve—and a life-changer.

“I had different motivations back then. I was addicted to training, to winning,” she said. Her advocacy changed her perspective and she uses every win to help promote Fight to Protect.

But the victories did not teach her about herself more than being on the raw end of the score did. “Honestly, I feel like the losses had more weight.”

“Take for example this recent Asian Games,” Ochoa said. “I was beaten by someone who, skill-to-skill, modesty aside, I’ve defeated before. I won over her in 2017. Swiftly. But this time around, she returned the favor. I couldn’t do anything.”

Ochoa settled for the bronze in the Asian Games in Jakarta. Back at home, everyone was expecting gold.

“The victories we’re expecting? What God has laid out for us is much bigger,” she stresses. “I settled for a bronze, but other victories followed.”

“After the Asiad, it was less than everyone expected, but the traction that ‘Fight to Protect’ gained? Boom! Boom! Boom! Tuloy-tuloy siya,” Ochoa continued. “The international federation approached me that time to express their support for [the movement].”

And then came her victory in Sweden.

She dominated France’s Morgane Houx, 4-0, in her opening match in the -49-kilogram division. In the quarterfinals, she brought down Poland’s Anna Augustyn-Mitkowska, 2-0.

She unleashed her mean form in the semifinals, ousting Frenchwoman Laetitia Boes by submission to barge to the title fight.

By the time the fight for the gold was over, Ochoa became the first Asian female gold medalist in the Worlds.

Told she had made history, all she could muster was “right?”

Ochoa is expected to finally find the words to express herself when she holds a presser upon her arrival. The Philippine delegation was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

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TAGS: CHAMP, world

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