Samuel Harper Morrison's journey to a Southeast Asian Games title started in front of a TV in his hometown of Olongapo.
Morrison was in his elementary-school years when he became an avid fan of superhero shows on TV.
“I really liked to watch iyong mga 'Power Rangers' and 'Masked Rider Black.' Then may nakita akong nagta-taekwondo sa neighborhood so sinubukan kong sumali. I was about 8 years old,” he said.
Morrison was born to a Bicolana mother and a US Marine. He grew up in Pampanga and stayed for a while in the US.
Being an active kid, he became interested in various sports. He tried his hand in swimming, gymnastics, athletics and basketball.
But he eventually returned to the sport that he first took up when he saw his childhood fictional heroes beating up super villains.
In college, he became part of the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Jins and gave the school a gold in the welterweight class. That year, UST won its 6th overall UAAP title in taekwondo.
Realizing he has what it takes to compete internationally, he decided to push the envelope and try his luck to become part of the Philippine national taekwondo team.
Morrison said it wasn’t easy.
“I tried many times, noong 2007 hanggang 2009,” the 27-year-old said. “Noong 2009, nabigyan ako ng break pero natalo agad.”
“Noong mga first try ko, nina-knockout ako, masakit ang katawan kinabukasan . . . Pangatlong try ko nakapasok ako sa Team A. Sobrang saya ko talaga, tinawagan ko agad ang nanay ko.”
In 2011, Morrison got a silver medal in the Summer Universiade following his transfer to the Far Eastern University. Three years later, he copped a bronze in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
His most memorable competition, however, was his initial foray in the world championships in 2011.
“Kahit natalo ako, marami din naman akong tinalo. Natalo lang ako sa sudden death, 1 point lang,” he said.
In 2015, he claimed the SEA Games gold medal in Singapore by beating Phan Trung Duc of Vietnam in the finals of the under 68-kilogram class.
Morrison looks forward to defending his title in Kuala Lumpur later this month.
“Iyong Thailand at Vietnam sila ang nakikita namin na magiging pinakamahirap naming kalaban," he said. "Pero sa SEA Games, we’re going for the 'kill.' Hindi kami pwedeng magpakita ng weakness sa kalaban.”
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