GOLD WINNERS: Margarita "Meggie" Ochoa (left) and Kimberly Anne Custodio show their medals after the awarding ceremony of the Ju-Jitsu World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Nov. 3, 2022. The two prepare for the next international tournaments next year. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The golden performances of Margarita "Meggie" Ochoa and Kimberly Anne Custodio at the 2022 Ju-Jitsu World Championships will inspire their teammates as they prepare for three major tournaments next year.

The Philippine national anthem was played twice as they received their respective gold medals on the podium at the Ju-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week.

Custodio had delivered the first gold on Nov. 2 after defeating Kacie Tan Pecharada of Thailand, 6-4, in the women's minus 45-kg category final. Her other victories were over Tadaporn Sakaew of Thailand, 14-0, in the semis; Al Shkeili Hamdah of UAE, 14-0, in the quarterfinal; and Iulia Adina Mihaila of Romania, 9-0, in the round of 16.

It was Ochoa's turn to shine in the women's minus 48-kg category on Nov. 3 when she outclassed Ni Ni Vicky Hoang of Canada, 2-0, to claim the gold medal.

On her way to the finals, Ochoa beat Oana Lupu of Romania (14-0), Oleksandra Rusetska of Ukraine (9-0) and Balqees Abdulkareem Abdoh Abdulla of UAE (22-0).

“Sobrang pasasalamat ko po sa Diyos kasi work po talaga Niya ang lahat ng ito at para sa glory po Niya itong lahat. (I am so thankful to God because this is all His work and all of this is for His glory)," said Ochoa, the two-time SEA Games champion, in an online interview on Wednesday.

"Sobrang grateful ko rin po sa lahat ng tao na ginamit ng Diyos para po dito sa panalo na ito. Hindi po naging madali ang journey pero sulit naman (I am also very grateful to all the people that God used for this victory. The journey is not easy but it's worth it)," she added.

Ochoa is scheduled to return in the country on Nov. 20.

Custodio and Myron Miles Mangubat also stayed on. They are training now in Dubai and will come home on Nov. 19.

Coach Allan Co and the rest of the team, namely Jenna Kaila Napolis, Ashley Jeraine Baluyot, Jan Vincent Cortez, Brendo Max Pudan and Philip Christopher Alegre arrived last Saturday.

"Kim and Meggie did really well. They were highly focused during all their matches and they didn't deviate from the game plan they set themselves," said Co, who is also the head coach of the Philippine Jiujitsu Academy and Carpe Diem Manila.

"The others did well also. Mangubat and Napolis won a good number of matches. The others had close matches as well," he added.

Napolis whipped Delfina Francisco of Angola, 14-0, in the first round of the women's minus 57-kg category. But she lost to Felicia Marceau of France, 2-4, in the next round.

Marceau eventually won the gold medal after demolishing Christina Tsantila of Greece, 7-0.

Baluyot absorbed a 0-14 loss to Cambodian-American Jessa Khan in the second round of the women's minus 52-kg category.

Khan, the 2018 Asian Games and 2019 SEA Games gold medalist, clobbered Maitha Shraim of the UAE in the third round, 14-0; Pnina Aronov of Israel in the semifinal, 14-0; and won her final match against Naomi Anaiansi Martin Matthew of Spain via submission.

Khan, who pocketed the gold medal at the 2022 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship last April, is looking forward to the 2023 SEA Games which her country will host on May 5-17. She was disqualified to compete at the 2021 Vietnam SEA Games after exceeding the weight limit.

In the men's minus 62-kg category, Mangubat downed Sirojbek Rustanov of Uzbekistan, 4-2, in the first round and Lkahia Bader of Morocco, 4-2, in the second round before losing his third round match to Darkhan Nortayev of Kazakhstan, 0-14.

Cortez defeated Emil Verdiyev of Azerbaijan via submission in the first round but he suffered a 0-23 loss to Omar Alfadhli of the UAE in the second round.

Pudan had an early exit in the men's minus 69-kg category when he bowed to Valentin Blumental of France, 0-4, while Alegre was also eliminated in the first round by Mohammed Foudah of Saudi Arabia, 0-14.

The World Championships was the team's second international tournament after the Vietnam SEA Games last May.

Aside from the Cambodia SEA Games, the national ju-jitsu athletes are joining the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 next year and the Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Bangkok and Chonburi province in Thailand on Nov. 17-26, 2023.

Following their successful campaign in the UAE, Ochoa and Custodio are expected to perform par excellence.

Ochoa now has four World Championships titles. She is also a two-time Asian Championships winner, a bronze medalist at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and a gold medalist at the 2016 Asian Beach Games in Vietnam.

Custodio won the bronze medal at the 2019 Asian Championships (Mongolia) while Napolis pocketed the silver medal at the 2019 and 2022 SEA Games, 2018 Abu Dhabi World Tour Grand Slam (United Kingdom) and 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (Turkmenistan), and a bronze medal winner at the 2016 Asian Beach Games.

Cortez bagged the gold medal at the 2019 Thailand Grand Prix and 2018 South East Asian Championships (Thailand), and the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Championships (Kazakhstan).

Meanwhile, the seventh edition of the Asian Ju-Jitsu Championships will be held at the Rangsit University in Bangkok from Feb. 24 to 28 next year.

The Ju-Jitsu International Federation (JJIF) World Championships, on the other hand, will be hosted by Ulaanbaatar City in Mongolia. The date has not been finalized. (PNA)