Filipino stickfighters didn’t disappoint playing on their home soil as Team Philippines emerged as the virtual champion in the 14th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (Wekaf) World Championships yesterday at the Convention Hall of JCentre Mall in Mandaue City.
It was a big bounce performance for Team Philippines, reclaiming the crown it won four years ago after failing to win a single medal in the biennial meet’s 13th edition held in Hungary.
Though there were still 25 events left, Team Philippines has harvested medals more than enough to win the crown.
In the 7 p.m. tally yesterday, Team Philippines was way ahead with 64 gold medals, 58 silvers and 46 bronzes.
“It’s already clear. The Philippines is the overall champion,” Supreme Grandmaster Diony Cañete said.
Dethroned defending champion United States was at far second with 41 golds, 29 silvers and 33 bronzes.
“Finally, after several years of playing and hard work, we finally beat our rival USA. America is a very tough team to beat because there are just too many Eskrima Clubs in the US,” SGM Cañete added.
Japan, banered by several Filipino arnisadors, finished third with 22 golds, 10 silvers and 15 bronzes.
Team Philippines, thus, duplicated its 2012 finish where it won the championship as tournament host. The 2012 edition was held at the Cebu International Convention Center.
“I’m very happy that we were able to accomplish our mission of winning the crown. From the very start, I knew that we are capable of winning,” said Team Philippines head coach Cesario Perez.
Completing the top 10 were Canada (10-10-11), Australia (10-5-13), Reunion Island (5-11-13), Hungary (5-6-10), Italy (3-3-5), United Kingdom (2-5-6) and Liechtenstein (1-3-3).
The Nationals got some solid performances from Henry Talledo (3-2-0), Dexter Bolambao (3-1-2) Sebastian Villanueva (3-1-1), Trixie Lofranco (3-0-0), Rhonda Lucero (3-0-0), Maria Juana Sotabento (2-3-0) and Jeffrey Navarrete (2-3-0).
“I struggled against some opponents, but I just continued fighting. It was my Dad who motivated me to start the sport” said the 12-year old Talledo.
Meanwhile, Cebu and US Grandmasters will be conducting a “Free Eskrima Clinic” tomorrow from 1 to 4 p.m. at JCentre Mall.
Awarding ceremonies will follow at 7 p.m. in Fort San Pedro in Cebu City.
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