Despite a dominant performance last year and in the first seven tournaments this year, Filipino world No. 1 James De los Santos is fully aware that opposing players will continue to challenge him in every event.
That is why it’s important for him to be at his best all the time.
De los Santos captured his seventh gold medal on his seventh tournament in what he described so far the most challenging meet as he ruled the Adidas USA Open 2 e-tournament last Thursday.
De los Santos, a former member of the national team, came through with a hard earned 25.1-24.7 win against Andrei Gabriel Nedelcu of Romania in the gold medal match.
Prior to the final, De los Santos won 4-1 in the tiebreak after he and American opponent Alfredo Bustamante both received 23.8 points in the round-of-16 stage of the event sanctioned by the World Karate Federation.
The 30-year-old De los Santos then defeated Fabien Rassaby of France 24.5-22.3 in the quarterfinal round.
However, in the semifinal stage, De los Santos came through with another close victory against Jaime Teruel of the Dominican Republic, 24.7-24.2, to clinch a spot in the final round.
“I would say there was a challenge in this tournament, especially in the semifinals. My opponent from the Dominican Republic plays for his national team, and he’s also a student of Pan American female kata champion, Maria Dimitrova,” De los Santos told Manila Bulletin.
“But it excites me every time I face an opponent of this caliber. My seventh gold was well-earned. I will still continue to train hard and maintain the world No. 1 spot. You just never know who would show up in one of these tournaments.”
“I’ve faced the same competition in the previous tournaments. But it’s not all the time that Dominican Republic joins these tournaments. I can’t let my guard down,” added De los Santos.
It was his first gold medal in the Adidas USA Open tournament after he claimed a silver medal in the second leg last year. He placed fifth in the first edition, and ninth in the third leg.