Ignored in SEA Games, OJ makes heads turn this time

August 12, 2020

FILIPINO karateka OJ Delos Santos is proving something online after he was unceremoniously bumped off from the national team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December last year.

Ranked No. 2 in the world e-kata ratings, Delos Santos nipped World No. 1 Eduardo Garcia by the narrowest of margins to rule the Athletes’ E-Tournament Tuesday.

Delos Santos scored a 25-24.9 victory over Garcia, for the 30-year old standout’s fourth gold medal while essaying his first win against his Portugese following defeats in the SportsData E-Tournament World Series in May and Adidas Karate World Open Series #2 early this month.

“This is the third time I’ve faced him (Garcia) in a final showdown,” said Delos Santos. “This victory means a lot. This will motivate me to train harder for the upcoming virtual tournaments."

A two-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist, Delos Santos changed his kata style to Unsu from Sansai as adviced by his Japanese coach Masa Saito to pull it off.

“My first two times were unlucky. I have to admit, he’s a tough player to beat, but when the third time came around, my coach from Japan and parents suggested I use my favorite kata Unsu and it finally paid off,” said Delos Santos.

In their first time meeting, Delos Santos lost to Garcia, 24.2-24.5. The Cebuano was initially declared winner in their second duel before organizers told Delos Santos there was a scoring glitch and handed the victoey to Garcia instead.

It was also redemption of sorts for delos Santos, who thumbed down a potential reunion with his former  teammates after he was excluded from the national squad in the SEA Games last year.

Delos Santos' focus right now is to catch Garcia at No. 1 in the world e-kata ratings.

“Hopefully, I could cling to that hope of catching up on him No. 1,” said Delos Santos.