De los Santos puts national team snub behind with e-karate success
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino karateka James De los Santos has moved on from his controversial snub on the national team last year and he did it by winning one gold medal after another.
De los Santos had a rough 2019 after he was left off the national team that competed in the 30th Southeast Asian Games here, and no matter how disappointing that episode in his life was, he knew that all he had to do was to quickly put it behind him.
“It’s unfortunate what happened last year but it’s already in the past and another opportunity opened and these virtual tournaments are the new opportunity,” said De los Santos in a Zoom interview with Inquirer.
“Virtual tournaments will be the new normal this year and that’s what kept me productive and occupied for the past five months. I’ve already moved on.”
De los Santos’ exclusion was unceremonious to say the least as he was a bronze medalist in the 2017 SEA Games and he was a six-time Philippine National Games champion. Nonetheless, his new career trajectory has him rising up the ranks at a skyrocketing pace.
The 30-year-old has collected eight gold medals in only a span of six months and is now ranked second in Sportdata’s E-Kata Individual Male Seniors category in the world with 5,115 points, a few more tournament wins behind world No. 1 Eduardo Garcia of Portugal, who has 7,075 points.
This constant drive of his isn’t just meant for his own personal gain, though, as De los Santos wants to push the discipline of karate to newer heights.
Karate, De los Santos acknowledged, isn’t gaining as much notoriety as other striking disciplines in the Philippines with taekwondo, wushu, and of course boxing taking much of the public’s consciousness.
De los Santos said that joining, and winning, online tournaments is his way of pushing karate’s popularity and it’s also a way of showing other karatekas that there is an alternative option for them to still compete amid the pandemic.
“I would think that given the fact I’ve been competing in these virtual tournaments lately, I’ve exposed karate and it should be given a push to be more exposed in the country,” said De los Santos. “These virtual tournaments gave me an opportunity to push karate better.”
“Virtual tournaments give karate practitioners a chance to compete internationally. You’re just at home, record your performance and send it for evaluation. Online you have as many takes as you want but the judges can also scrutinize you better because they can rewind and look for mistakes.”
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