USA cruises to third straight overall title in Wekaf c’ships
A campaign that started off with a lot of promise ended in bitter disappointment.
Team Philippines failed to bring home the overall championship in the 10th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation Championships, bowing to powerhouse United States at the tournament’s final day yesterday at the Ayala Center Cebu Activity Center.
Despite playing on its home turf, Team Philippines could not make the most out of the golden opportunity to take back the title it last held eight years ago, as it ended up with just 35 gold medals, 18 silvers and 19 bronze medals.
The USA, on the other hand, finished with a flurry, ending up with an astounding 44 golds, 35 silvers and 30 bronze medals to achieve a rare three-peat.
After starting off with 20 medals during the forms or “sayaw” competition, Team Philippines managed just 15 more gold medals in the tournament’s final two days.
Mere whispers of questionable judging at the start of the tournament turned into a deafening statement as the Supreme Grandmaster himself, Atty. Dionisio Cañete, rued the spotty officiating in this year’s tournament.
“It was the worst that I’ve seen. Kung dili lang jud ‘ta host, gubot jud siguro kaayo ni,” said Cañete in an interview yesterday.
He also regretted the fact that there were seven events that did not have any entries from the Philippines since the records of the players who were supposedly joining those said events were lost by the coach.
“Those were very strong players, medal hopefuls in fact. It was really a case of negligence and spotty officiating,” he added.
It was a fact that was not lost on expatriate Scott Slezak, who did his part by winning two gold medals for the country. “We didn’t fill enough divisions. In doing that, we were giving away precious medals.
And we need to make the judging clearer because some fights were very one-sided,” explained Slezak.
Cañete however, offered no excuses for the country as he admitted that the USA came ready to fight and defend their title.
The USA’s white-hot finish was anchored on their dominance in the sparring events, where they captured 12 gold medals in the single-stick division and then added three more in the double-stick event.
The setback did not dampen the host’s hopes of reclaiming the championship at the next World Championships, slated in Mexico City in 2010.
The United Kingdom finished in third place with 12 golds, 11 silvers and 15 bronze medals while Australia wound up in fourth with 10 golds, three silvers and eight bronze medals. Canada rounded out the top five with four golds, nine silvers and five bronze medals. Correspondent Jonas Panerio