Leading jin to play for Ateneo again

PAULINE Lopez is returning for her fifth and final year in Ateneo for the next UAAP taekwondo tournament.

“Yes. I’ll be back and I’m so excited! I am so stoked,” said Lopez during a recent "So She Did!" vodcast hosted by Trina Guytingco and Martie Bautista.

The 24-year-old Lopez sat out the Season 82 competitions last October to focus on the 30th Southeast Asian Games, where she won the 57 kg. gold medal, and the Olympic qualifying tournaments.

The Lady Eagles were fortunate to have Lopez in the taekwondo program.

Lopez's original choice was La Salle, which along with University of Santo Tomas and National University, is a traditional powerhouse in the combat sport.

But Lopez, the 2016 Asian champion, fell in love with Ateneo.

“I step and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I feel like I’m home!’ They were so welcoming and when I saw the curriculum and the athletes, what they were about, the values we stand for. I’m like, oh my gosh, this is it,” said Lopez, who stayed in Subic since the lockdown.

In her Season 79 debut, Lopez emerged as the Rookie of the Year plum after copping the silver medal in the featherweight division and helped the Lady Eagles finish third.

Lopez then topped her division for the next two years, before sitting out in Season 82.

With her much-awaited comeback to Ateneo for her final year, Lopez hopes to cap her collegiate stint with a bang.