There are two things that Filipina karateka Jamie Lim ardently desired this year, her college diploma from the University of the Philippines and the Southeast Asian Games gold medal. In stellar fashion, she capped off her 2019 by having both.
Months after graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, the 22-year-old showed that she is every inch a winner as her legendary father is, winning the women's 61-kilogram kumite category.
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The daughter of basketball icon Samboy Lim proved that her dad's champion legacy also runs in her blood, scoring the crucial hit on Indonesia’s Georgia Zefanya Ceyco inside the last 20 seconds to get the lead and walk away with the decisive 2-1 win. She downed Aurdrey Japyus of Malaysia, 7-3, in the quarterfinal round before dominating Thi Thao Bui of Vietnam, 5-1, in the semifinal stage.
With the victory in the regional biennial meet, she replicated the same SEA Games success her father enjoyed when he won a gold in men's basketball in the 1983 edition. Moreover, it hiked the Philippine national karate team’s medal count to two golds, a silver, and seven bronzes.
Lim broke down in tears during the awarding ceremony, hugging her mother and former Pag-IBIG Fund CEO Darlene Berberabe after the medal was awarded to her. "Summa cum laude for mom, SEA Games gold is for dad,” she says. "I can't believe that both of them happened this year. 2019 is so perfect for me. I'm just so grateful."
“I look up to my mom and dad so much. To even come close to him, to be compared to him and mom, it's so big for me," Lim adds. Known by the moniker “The Skywalker” due to his enthralling high-flying antics, the PBA all-time great suffered a heart attack during a basketball game in November 2014. He fell into a coma, but he slipped out of the precarious state.
Although her father can no longer watch her compete live, Lim brought with her the lessons she learned from his basketball exploits. In addition, Lim was heard on numerous occasions, telling the press that she owes much of her wisdom from her mother.
"It's just hard work, and focus, and discipline. Everything that I learned from my parents, I saw it from them," she shares. Those traits proved valuable in her return to the sport after she took a four-year break to focus on her academics. It was quite the feat for Lim, who only returned to training this past July.
“It’s against all odds because I was competing against full-time athletes. I did my work. I worked hard every single day. There were no shortcuts. I wanted it so much,” Lim discloses.
According to Lim, getting back into the sport after a long hiatus was difficult. Through the support of her coaches, she regained her prowess slowly but surely. “After graduating, I was slow. I was the slowest runner in training. I get tired easily,” she recalls. “I knew it would be hard because I would be facing high-level athletes. But once I decided to start, I decided to give my 110 percent.”
Her opponent in the finals, Ceyco, was the favorite to take home the gold following her silver-medal finish in the 2019 Asian Karate Championships, but Lim flipped the script by delivering a strike to the midsection in the waning seconds of their bout.
"I just believed in myself. I know how to handle the situation. I believed in my techniques. I know I'm made for this—for the moment, for the pressure," she explains. Karate is always my art. SEA Games in the Philippines, how special is that? The timing is perfect. I got my goal in academics, and I think the signs just told me to.”
Berberabe cannot help but be emotional as she commends her daughter for her astounding achievements both as an athlete and a student.
"I'm the proudest mother. Jaime worked so hard. She graduated summa cum laude in June and then set her sights to the SEA Games. Four, five months of hard training, she was crying for the first two weeks. She really worked so hard, so dedicated, so focused,” Berberabe reveals. She assured her daughter that she will always be just behind Lim, guiding in the endeavors she pursue, whether that be academics, sports, or both.
"The future is so bright for her. I believe that with the values that Samboy and I tried to teach her, she'll be able to decide what path she wants to take," Berberabe says.
Still on a high from her SEA Games triumph, Lim plans to take a break before returning to school to earn a master’s degree. "Right now, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet because for me, I think whatever I choose to do, I'll do it. I have no plans yet. Let’s see what happens next," she says.