Wednesday, September 19, 2012

That Old Feeling - The DLSU Women's Taekwondo Team

It is a fact that once you experience the sweet taste of victory you will always want for that feeling.
The DLSU Women's Taekwondo team has a proud history, winning all of the events while it was still classified a demonstration sport in the first three years they were held in the UAAP. They also managed to win 3 straight golds from the 1996-97 season until 1998-99.  In last years UAAP competition they came close, but it was not their time. Not yet.
Led by Head Coach Stephen "Pen" Fernandez and assisted by Coaches Roberto "Kitoy" Cruz and Dax Morfe, the team set out to win the gold in this years UAAP Men's and Women's tourney.
Head Coach Pen Fernandez, who is a 7th Dan Black Belt,  is not a stranger to adversity and victory. In his career as a jin, coach and instructor he has endured pain and injury as well as relished triumph. Being a two time Olympian who won the Bronze in 1992 in Barcelona, he realized that experience and hard work will help them reach their goal.
The team had 9 members, 7 regular and 2 alternates, all of whom are black belts. Alyssa and sister Ynah Bonifacio, Leigh Ann Nuguid, Apriel Solimen, Jyra Lizardo, Patricia Gonzalez and Ynah Langit served as part of the regular group while Analyn Pena and Patricia Sembrano served as subtitutes.
These ladies are no slouches. Jyra Lizardo (Sister of Philippine National Team Captain Japoy who was himself also a former DLSU jin) was voted this year's MVP of the Women's competition and is on the Dean's list.
Patricia Sembrano, who is an alternate on the team, was also on the Dean's list and a member of the National team. She is actually the Team Captain and decided to become a sub to be able to concentrate more on her discipline, Poomsae. I was told that the reason she was named Captain was because her great academic standing and her work ethic in training made her the perfect role model for the rest of the squad.
Here are a few photos of the ladies in action.


Intensive training started around the last week of July. This meant practice of 2 hours a day (sometimes 4 hours a day) involving either running, drills or sparring. Academics also had to be attended to. All the long hours spent training together is what Coach Pen believes to have made the difference. The composition of this years team was no different from last years, ditto for their opponents. What changed  was their level of maturity and cohesion. They looked out for one another, learned together and believed in each other.
Persistence always pays off in the end. Grit and determination brings championships. This is exemplified by jin April Solimen, who despite injuries sustained in the course of competiton still suited up for the last round of bouts. In the end, after an excruciating injury to her knee she had to be assisted out by her team mates. This is what warriors do, go on until they are unable to fight.
Here are the proud winners celebrating the victory, singing the school song, saying a quiet prayer of thanks and posing for a victory photo.

Note: The Men's team ended up in second place in this years round. I hope I get to write a similar piece on them next year.

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