The World Taekwondo Championships (WTC) is considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious international taekwondo competitions. Along with the Olympics, the biennial tournament is a chance for taekwondo athletes to represent their country.
This year, the 23rd edition of the WTC was held in Muju, South Korea from June 24 to 30. Former DLSU Green Jin Kris Uy was one of few who represented the Philippines in the heavyweight category, with hopes of bringing home a win.
Success in the field
Within the Lasallian taekwondo community, Kris is the eldest of the Uy brothers who all hail from Concord, California. He was one of the prized players of La Salle as he led the Green Jins to the UAAP title last 2013. As the former UAAP Middle Heavyweight Champion, Uy made use of his collegiate experience to compete and gain experience for the international stage.
He did not limit himself to the collegiate competition, as he also proved to be one of the best fighters of the entire country when he represented the Philippines last April 2016 in the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament.
Despite failing to reach the Olympics as he lost to Tanrikulu of Palestine, Uy was undeterred. “Sometimes, that’s just life. You work really hard and you don’t get the results you want, but it’s about the person you become in the meantime,” he mentioned, as he won silver in the Asian Taekwondo Championships that was held a few days after the Olympic qualifiers.
Round of 64
Last June 28, Uy represented the Philippines once more as he competed in the heavyweight category of the WTC. Uy went up against Dejan Georgievski of Macedonia in his first game in the tournament. Georievski is one of the players that has been participating in the WTC for a couple of years, but was overwhelmed with the consecutive attacks that Uy delivered.
Uy started strong with an eight-point lead in the first round, and continued to score in the second round, not allowing Georievski to score even once. Coming in the third round, Uy scored five more points but yielded three to the Macedonian, ending his first match with a 15-3 win.
“I won by a big margin, but for me, winning by a big margin or a small margin doesn’t really matter. I just did my best,” he commented on his performance.
Round of 32
In his second match, Uy faced Chol-ho of South Korea. Seconds into the first round, a 45 degree kick gave Jo an immediate two point lead. Jo continued to score as the first round ended with 5-1, with Uy earning a point off a punch.
It was in the second round wherein both players went head-to-head with one another as each scored seven points. Uy was the first to score with a front kick, but Jo followed up with a punch. It was 30 seconds before the end of the second round wherein Uy trimmed his deficit to a single point, 8-7. Unfortunately, a head kick just 10 seconds later gave Jo a four-point breather as the round ended at 12-8.
“By the end of the third round I wasn’t thinking of points already, I was just not strong. I wasn’t thinking much about the counters and unfortunately, I ran out of gas and my legs got pretty heavy,” Uy recalled after his loss. Despite scoring six points in the third round, Uy was overpowered as his Korean counterpart generated 14 points of his own to earn a seat in the Round of 16, 26-14.
Jo, who has won five international taekwondo tournaments, and who has been part of the Olympic squad since the beginning of 2013 , is an athlete Uy was happy to have sparred against.
“I actually felt pretty good about myself. Being able to fight him the way I did, I was very happy with myself, and feeling ko na kaya na kaya. That’s all I really felt. I could do this and I’m close, bitin lang, but I’m close.”
Looking back at his career in La Salle, Uy remains thankful for the lessons and values he picked up, as well as his support system. As he can no longer compete in the UAAP as he aged out of the league’s age limit, he is commonly seen motivating and guiding his brothers.
Following his WTC campaign, Uy is still contemplating on participating once more in the Asian Taekwondo Championships to be held next year due to his studies in La Salle. “I’m trying to figure out the balance for that and see if I can do it, but we’ll see. A lot of it, I’m leaving it to see what God needs me to do, or what God wants me to do.”
As of press time, Uy is seeking to bounce back with the national team in the Chuncheon Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships from July 2 to 7. In addition, he will compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games later this year in September at Turkmenistan.