by Waylon Galvez
The build-up for Filipino Jiu-Jitsu fighters for the Southeast Asian Games here continues as five athletes joined training camps in San Diego and Long Beach in the US recently.
Former World Champion Meggie Ochoa, Annie Ramirez, Apryl Eppinger, Gian Dee, and Marc Lim were in the US for the training camps that is part of their preparation for the biennial meet.
“It was good training for us, it was a good experience for us because we’re able to compete against the Brazilians and other top rank fighters in the world,” said Dee, who together with Lim and Ochoa, saw action in the World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Long Beach.
The five-man team first attended the training camp in San Diego, before they jumped to Long Beach, where the World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu. While the troika of Ochoa, Lim, and Dee competed in the said tournament, Ramirez and Apryl Eppinger joined a training camp.
They went back to San Diego for another set of training camp before they returned to the country over the weekend.
Ochoa, Lim, and Dee represented the Philippine-based Atos Wolfpack in the IBJJF tournament, and the 28-year-old Ochoa pocketed a bronze medal despite competing in the 48.5kg – instead of her usual weight category of 45kg in the SEA Games set Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 here.
Ochoa said they all resumed training now that they are back home as the national team is set to compete again, this time in the 4th Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship set on July 14-22 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
“That’s next for us members of the national team. The last tournament that we joined in the US was for club teams, but this in Mongolia, we represent again our country,” said Ochoa.
Jiu-Jitsu is one of the sports disciplines expected to deliver gold medals for the Philippine Team in the SEA Games with the track record of its athletes, particularly Ochoa and Ramirez – both gold medalists in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan two years ago.