FINAL EVENT. Sandrex Gainsan (center) sings the national anthem after ruling the Qiangshu (spear play) event of the World Junior Wushu Championships in Tangerang, Indonesia on Dec. 10, 2022. It was the 18-year-old Gaisan’s last event in the juniors level. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – The Batang Pinoy (National Youth Games) grassroots development program, organized by the Philippine Sports Commission, is the stepping stone of world-caliber athletes.

One of them is Sandrex Gainsan, gold medalist at the 8th World Junior Wushu Championships held at Indonesia Convention Exhibition in Tangerang from Dec. 2 to 11.

He topped the Qiangshu (spear play), beating Singaporean Shaoyang Ian Sim and Malaysian Waipeng Hew.

"I had no errors. I did what I was taught," the 18-year-old Gainsan said in an interview on Friday.  "I was a little nervous but I regained my confidence when I entered the competition area."

At 18 years old, it is the 5-foot-7 Gainsan's last competition in the juniors level.

He debuted at the 2016 World Juniors in Burgas, Bulgaria where he finished fifth.

"I consider winning the gold in Indonesia as memorable because it was my last medal in the junior competitions," he shared.

Vincent Ventura (15-and-under) and Zion Diaraliay (12-14 years) both snared bronze medals in Nandao (southern broadsword) and 42-step Taijiquan events, respectively.

Iran topped the tournament with 12 gold, four silver and six bronze medals while host Indonesia was second with a 10-2-4 gold-silver-bronze medal tally.

Gainsan first made the national team in 2015 when he was selected by Wushu Federation of the Philippines head coach Samson Co.

Co, a bemedaled athlete before he was appointed coach, was impressed with Gainsan's performance in the Batang Pinoy games.

"My first local tournament was the 2013 Batang Pinoy in Iba, Zambales where I got the silver medal in the Elementary Changquan and Jianshu events," narrated Gainsan, then a student at Project 6 Elementary School.

Two years later in in Cebu, he finally got the gold in the Elementary Qiangshu and Jianshu events and added a silver medal in Changquan.

He made his international debut at the 2015 Asian Junior Wushu Championship held in Mongolia where he pocketed the bronze medal; bagged another bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Traditional Wushu Championships in Nanjing, China; and collected one gold and one silver at the 2019 Asian Junior Wushu Championships in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

"I became interested in wushu because it is a unique sport," said Gainsan. "My favorite event is Qiangshu because you need speed, flexibility and balance so that the outcome of the routine is good."

Gainsan has temporarily stopped schooling to focus on his training, usually at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex gym where he spends three hours twice a day from Monday to Saturday.

"My biggest dream is to become world champion in senior competition," said Gainsan, "I hope I will be selected to compete at the 2023 Cambodia Southeast Games and continue to give honor to my countrymen."

If it’s not asking too much, Gainsan said he also wants to become a seaman.

Batang Pinoy will be held for the first time since 2019 starting on Saturday.

Nine on-site events (athletics, badminton, swimming, table tennis, archery, chess, cycling, obstacle sports and weightlifting) will be hosted by Ilocos Sur province while eight other disciplines will be conducted online (arnis, dancesport, judo, karate, muay, pencak silat, taekwondo and wushu). (PNA)