Karateka bags gold medal



NAY PYI TAW – Ramon Antonino Franco is a religious man.

That is why he believes the One Up There who watched over his family when tragedy struck Tacloban recently also had a hand in his victory in the 27th SEA Games karatedo competitions last Saturday evening at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium here.

“All the training, experience, nandu’n. Pero all those would not have mattered kung walang Isang nasa Itaas na nag-guide sa akin,” said Franco a day after he topped the sport’s under 55kg class of individual kumite.

“Sa dami ng sinalanta ng Yolanda na-spare ang family ko,” related the 28-year-old, before putting a hand across his rib cage to show how high the flood waters were in his hometown.

“And then dito, sa hirap ng pinagdaanan kong draw, mga mabibigat na kalaban, alam kong Somebody’s watching over me.”

Indeed, the road to the top of the podium was rough for Franco, who has been seeing action since the 2007 SEA Games and whose previous biggest accomplishment was as part of the silver-winning kumite team in Indonesia two years ago.

In-between, the Criminology graduate had to take a forced vacation from the sport after breaking his hand in a tournament.

“Na-layoff ako ng matagal dahil compound break. Kaya parang gusto kong makabawi for lost time,” said Franco.

There were some doubts at first, when Franco was pitted against Iman Ragananda of Indonesia. “Powerhouse ang Indonesia sa karatedo kaya medyo may kaba din,” he admitted.

Then the years of training and experience took over, enabling him to notch a 6-3 win.

Next up was another tough foe in Nguyen Phi Tuan of Vietnam, but Franco hurdled him, too, with a 6-2 victory.

Compared to his first two opponents, Brunei’s Muhammad Fida’iy Sanif could be considered a lightweight, yet Franco considers himself lucky to escape with an 8-6 decision in the finals, partly explaining the tears he shed right after the bout.

“Sa mga kababayan, sa family ko at teammates dedicated ang panalo ko,” said Franco. “Alam kong may duminig sa mga dasal naming.”


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