DARIUS VENERABLE flexed just enough muscles to edge South Korea’s Namhun Lee in the men’s Poomsae individual of taekwondo on Monday for the Philippines’s third gold medal in the World Combat Games at the King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The 22-year-old Venerable scored 9.280 points—5.560 technical skills and 3.720 presentation with zero error—to beat Lee by a mere eighth-hundredth of a point.
“I just gave my all and let everything flow,” said Venerable, a native of Quezon and a Sports Management student at University of Santo Tomas.
Singapore’s Darren Han Yap Zong had 9.100 points to bag bronze in the 12-athlete event.
“It’s hard to qualify here, you need to be in the top eight in the world and everybody’s competitive,” said Venerable, the gold medalist at the Korea Open and World Martial Arts Mastership.
Juvenile Crisostomo and Justin Macario, meanwhile, contributed a bronze medal in mixed pair also of poomsae on Monday.
Jiu-jitsu’s Kaila Napolis and Muay Thai’s Richien Yosorez and Kylie Mallari won the country’s two other gold medals in the competitions topped by Ukraine with 21 gold, 17 silver and 15 bronze medals, followed by host Saudi Arabia (12-20-19) and Kazakhstan (12-13-23).
The Philippines also clinched five silver medals courtesy of Muay Thai’s Islay Erika Bomogao (female wai kru), Philip Delarmino and Ariel Lampacan (Mixed Mai Muay) and Rudzma Abubakar (48 kg female combat), wushu’s Agatha Wong (women’s taolu) and Clemente Tabugara Jr. (men’s sanda).
Also bagging bronze medals for the 13-athlete Philippine delegation in the games that ended Monday were wushu’s Jones Inso and Thornton Sayan and grappling’s Maria Aisa Ratcliff and Fierre Afan.
“It’s a big honor because the first time we competed in these games in 2010, we didn’t get anything,” said chef de mission Alvin Aguilar, who heads the wrestling federation. “All our athletes are very good, all awesome.”
The Philippines went empty in the games’ inaugurals in 2010 in Beijing and didn’t send a team in 2013 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Upon returning home, Venerable will fly to the Muju World Poomsae Challenge in South Korea.
Former world poomsae champion and now national coach and trainer Rani Ortega said Venerable was tailor-trained for the Combat Games.
“The Combat Games have a different format from the Asian Games,” Ortega said. “The format at the Asian Games is a mix of recognized poomsae than freestyle.”
Venerable wasn’t fielded to last month’s Hanzhou Asian Games where Patrick King Perez clinched a bronze medal.