MANILA – Back-to-back champion University of the East pocketed four gold medals at the start of the UAAP Season judo tournament at the Marikina Sports Complex late Thursday.
The Warriors also won one silver and bronze medals to earn 32 points.
Reigning MVP and Season 85 Rookie of the Year Joemari-Heart Rafael ruled the half-lightweight (-52 kg) category. She stressed the importance of teamwork because UE only has 13 players, three short of the maximum number of athletes per team.
"Lahat talaga kami nagtutulong-tulong kasi konti lang talaga kami, kailangan talaga naming pumuwesto. Even sa preparation namin sa training, lahat talaga 'to naplano na namin, lahat talaga napaghandaan na 'to. Kaya, syempre fulfilling na nagawa namin 'yung dapat naming gawin at nakikita namin 'yung coaches namin na proud sa naging achievements namin (We all really help each other because there are only a few of us, we really must take good placing. Even in our training preparation, we have planned everything, everything has been prepared. So, of course it's fulfilling that we did what we had to do and we see our coaches proud of our achievements)," said the 21-year-old Rafael, a BS Psychology major.
Rafael’s sister, Jewel Ann, retained her title in the extra-lightweight (-48kg) category while Leah Jhane Lopez topped the featherweight (-44kg) and Krystanna Resente triumphed in the lightweight (-57kg) category.
Ateneo is in second place with six points (two silvers) followed by University of Santo Tomas (four bronzes), University of the Philippines (one silver) and De La Salle University (three bronzes).
Meanwhile, five-time champion UP pocketed two golds, one silver and two bronzes to take the No. 1 spot in the men's division with 19 points.
"This season, our mindset is to just enjoy the game. The more you enjoy it, the better your game gets. So it's like that's what I did earlier, I didn't think that I had to win. I'm just happy that I was able to play," Zarchie Garay said.
Garay defeated De La Salle's Ezra Malanos in the middleweight (-90kg) final. He won the half-heavyweight (-100kg) in Season 82.
UP got another gold from Jayvee Ferrer in the half-middleweight (-81kg) and two bronzes from Laurence Sy (half-heavyweight) and Jacob Raphael Torres (heavyweight).
UST, seeking its sixth straight title, has 16 points followed by La Salle (11) and Ateneo (2). (PNA)