JAKARTA—Friday did not at all go according to plan for the Philippines’ ju-jitsu team in the 2018 Asian Games, as its male fighters crashed out early and the favored female fighters wound up facing each other for the bronze instead of gold.
Gian Dee bowed out in the quarterfinals of the men’s -56 kilograms division, while Marc Alexander Lim was eliminated in the round-of-16 of the -69kg division.
Meggie Ochoa, a gold medal bet, lost in the quarterfinals while Kaila Napolis was ousted by the eventual gold medalist in the semifinals. They wound up meeting in the repechage for the bronze, with the veteran Ochoa winning 2-0.
It was not the ideal situation for Ochoa to win a medal, as the 28-year-old acknowledged after the match.
“Well, ngayon po meron po akong mixed feelings kasi ang kalaban ko ng bronze match was my teammate, Kaila, and we're very good friends. It doesn't feel so good to beat your teammate, to be honest,” she said.
“Training partner ko na rin siya, so ang hirap niyang labanan,” Ochoa also said. “Ang hirap sa loob na malabanan siya sa bronze match. Honestly, a part of me feels worse for beating her than natalo, I don’t know.”
“Parang a part of me parang mas mahirap pa sa loob ko na kinalabanan ko siya sa bronze match.”
She took solace in having won the Philippines’ sixth bronze medal of the Asian Games, even though she would have much preferred to win gold. “Iba 'yung plano ng Diyos eh. Nagtitiwala ako sa plano ng Diyos,” said Ochoa.
The veteran campaigner also sought to comfort her younger teammate, who was also celebrating her 22nd birthday on Friday. Ochoa revealed after the medal ceremony that she gifted Napolis with the stuffed toy given to medalists.
“It was my birthday gift to her,” she said. “I wish sana nga, gold and silver kami, ‘di ba?”
“Pero ‘yan ‘yung plan ni God, and nagta-trust naman ako kay God,” Ochoa stressed.
For Napolis, there were no hard feelings as she instead looked at the tournament as a learning experience.
“Sobrang saya na ang dami din learnings from my matches,” she said. “I should be more aggressive, more technical, more on sa technical aspects for ju-jitsu then mental training din.”
Napolis admitted that she was disappointed to have to face her own teammate for the bronze, but at the end of the day, they still managed to add to the country’s medal tally.
“Medyo sad kasi siyempre, ‘di ako nag-place for this event,” said Napolis. “But I’m happy na nag-medal si Meggie.”
Both Ochoa and Napolis will now shift their focus to the World Championships in November. Three other members of the team -- Annie Ramirez, April Eppinger, Carlos Pena -- will compete tomorrow, still at the Assembly Hall in the Jakarta Convention Center.