After failing to clinch the gold medal twice, Pauline Lopez roared back with a golden performance in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
The comely 23-year-old jin from Ateneo de Manila University clobbered Aliza Chhoeung of Cambodia, 12-4, to clinch the crown in the women’s -57kg division that eluded her for the past couple of years.
And it seemed that her biggest fall also served as her greatest motivation.
“It all paid off,” said Lopez, who lost her crown after deciding to move up to a higher weight category in the 29th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 and the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta last year.
“I just kept remembering that the blood, sweat and tears that we’ve been through, the long hours of training and hard training pushed me to do well in this match.”
“Every time I watch my previous matches, I always get fired up to go hard and train because I really wanted to step on that gold medal podium.”
Lopez wasn’t the lone jin who emerged with a golden finish.
Dave Cea also dominated the men’s -74kg class while Morrison successfully defended his crown in the men’s 80kg category to jack up the medal harvest of the vaunted taekwondo squad.
Lopez said their success shouldn’t be credited on individual talent.
“Personally, I think it’s because of a different vibe. This time, we are helping each other. Although taekwondo is not an individual sport, we really lean on each other to get that added boost,” said Lopez, the winner of Asian Championships, Korea Open and Pan-Am Open.
“What sets us apart from before is that we now have unity. There’s already communication. And although we were training hard, we also make sure that we’re having fun.”