La Salle student wins gold in world karate tilt

By Dennis Gasgonia,

Posted at Nov 12 2012 11:30 PM | Updated as of Nov 13 2012 05:00 PM

National team member OJ delos Santos jumps while performing a routine in the men’s individual kata competition of the 2nd ISKF World Shoto Cup Karate Championships at the Waterfront Hotel grand ballroom in Cebu City last Sunday. Photo by Dave delos Santos

MANILA -- National team member OJ delos Santos came through with a riveting performance to bag the men’s kata gold in thrilling fashion at the close of the 2nd International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) World Shoto Cup Karate Championships at the Waterfront Hotel grand ballroom in Cebu on Sunday.

Performing in front of a hometown crowd, Delos Santos displayed superb poise, power and precision in doing the difficult “hands-in-the-clouds” routine in impressing all 7 foreign judges, who gave him the best score of 42.3 points.

The 22-year-old De La Salle University marketing student narrowly beat two Filipino-Americans, Michael Cornel and Jumbo Banaria, who represented the United States and tallied the same 42 points.

A former Pan American junior champion, Cornel, whose father, Joey, is also a Cebuano native, bagged the silver for having the higher average scores while Banaria, the defending champion, took the bronze.

“I’m overwhelmed and near-speechless right now because this is my best finish in an international competition. I really chose one of the most difficult katas and all the hard work paid off,” said Delos Santos.

“I would also thank to thank my parents for their support, coach Frank Kawean and national coach David Lay, who helped me refine my moves,” he added. “Without them this victory would not be possible.”

“OJ’s win was icing on the cake,” said a beaming Lay, the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) country director for the Philippines, whose organization of the two-day tournament drew praises from all the athletes and officials from 15 countries that took part in the event.

OJ delos Santos has the national flag draped on his shoulders at the podium after bagging the men’s individual kata gold in the 2nd ISKF World Shoto Cup Karate Championships at the Waterfront Hotel grand ballroom in Cebu City last Sunday. Flanking him are silver medalist Michael Cornel (left) and bronze medalist Jumbo Banaria, the defending champion.  Photo by Dave delos Santos

The Filipino bets dominated the junior action last Saturday with a bumper harvest of 16 gold, 14 silver and 8 bronze medals.

Indeed, Delos Santos’ triumph capped another productive day for the hosts, who also took a gold in the men’s senior team kata and 2 silvers in the men’s senior individual kata and team kumite.

ISKF-Philippines President Benjamin Villamayor, Barry Orenciana and Roehl Parungao, all either in their late 40s or early 50s, showed they still had the right moves in besting the US squad for the gold, while Parungao finished a close second behind American Paul McKeena, who also took the senior kumite title.

Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF) president Joey Romasanta, who flew to Cebu early Sunday just to witness the last day of the competition before heading back to Manila the same night, cited the efforts of Lay and PKF secretary general Raymund Reyes in organizing the competition.

“The staging of the 2nd ISKF World Shoto Cup here showed again the organizational savvy of Filipinos. I would also like to congratulate OJ for his impressive victory,” Romasanta said. “We can use his win to inspire his teammates to do well in next year’s Myanmar Southeast Asian Games.”

Americans Pedram Rastegar and Yoko Ishida captured the men’s individual kumite and women’s individual kata titles, respectively, while Canada’s Carol Haddad secured the women’s individual kumite gold.

Australia swept the men’s team kumite and women’s team kata titles while the US and Canada captured the men’s team kata and women’s team kumite championships, respectively.

The event was sponsored by Smart, Unilever and Gatorade.

The third edition of the ISKF World Shoto Cup will be held in 2016 in South Africa.