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29th Summer Universiade

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THE Philippines, through the privately-funded Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP), was one of only 66 countries among the 145-nation cast (plus host Chinese-Taipei) to capture a medal (gold/silver/bronze) during the recently-concluded 29th Summer Universiade in New Taipei City, Chinese-Taipei from August 19-30.

Our Filipino university athletes, totaling a record-setting number 116 (65 men and 51 women), saved the best for last when one of our seven wushu bets (four male/three female) assured himself of at least a silver medal going into the final day (August 29) of the 12-day competitions that consisted of 21 disciplines and a demonstration sport (billiards).

At the Hsinchu County gymnasium on August 28, stout-hearted Jomar Balangui, the pride of the University of Baguio, demolished 18-year-old American Isiah Ray Enriquez of South Plains College (Lubbock, Texas) during the semifinals of the men’s sanda 52-kilogram event, 5-0 and 3-0, for a 2-0 victory to advance to the finals against the People’s Republic of China’s Yuan Peng the following day.

The 19-year-old Balangui was hard-pressed to beat Yuan in the gold-medal match, considering that the sport of wushu originated from China. He was soundly outclassed by Yuan, 5-0 and 5-0, in the finals for a 2-0 loss.

Described as a modern exhibition of traditional Chinese martial arts that was created in Mainland China, competitions in wushu were being held for the first time in the 58-year history of the biennial Universiade.

Balangui’s silver was the Philippines’ third medal overall in Universiade history under the banner of the FESSAP, which has been recognized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) as the sole national university sports federation from the country since 2009.

In FESSAP’s participation debut during the 2011 Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China, the Philippines secured a silver medal via Samuel Thomas Harper Morrison of Far Eastern University in men’s taekwondo.

Two years later (2013) in Kazan, Russian Federation, Grandmaster Wesley Barbasa So gifted the country with its first-ever Universiade gold in men’s chess, surviving a blitz playoff match against Armenia’s Zaven Andriasian, a former World Junior Chess titlist, following a nine-way deadlock at the top of the standings.

The Philippines missed out on a podium finish during the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, Republic of Korea.

In its fourth consecutive stint in the Summer Universiade, which is considered by many as the “Olympics” at the university level, the FESSAP competed in a record 13 sports. These are archery, athletics, badminton, billiards, diving, judo, golf, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, lawn tennis, weightlifting and wushu.

Also known as the World University Games, only 43 countries snared at least one gold medal during the Taipei Universiade and only 59 copped at least one silver, including the Philippines, which officially ranked 53rd to 59th places (0-1-0) in a tie with Argentina, Burkina Faso, Spain, Estonia, India and Mongolia.

More on the 2017 Taipei Universiade next time.

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