SOUTHEAST Asian Games poomsae gold medalist Jocel Ninobla is emerging to be the taekwondo's pandemic hero.
Representing University of Santo Tomas, Ninobla won the gold medal in the female senior category of the first-ever Smart/MVP Sports Foundation Online National Taekwondo Inter-School Poomsae Championships over the weekend.
The 23-year old Ninobla bested La Salle's Rinna Babanto, who settled the silver medal. La Salle's Angelica Gaw and UST's Aidaine Laxa, meanwhile, emerged as bronze medalists.
UST actually took a golden double as Rodolfo Reyes Jr. topped the male senior event.
Reyes prevailed over La Salle's Patrick Perez, who copped the silver. La Salle's Raphael Enrico Mella and Far Eastern University's Mark Lorenz Balcita, on the other hand, went home with bronze medals.
Ninobla has been thriving even without physical poomsae competitions, which was put to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A three-time UAAP champion, Ninobla led the Philippines' three-gold haul in the first-ever Online Daedo Open European Poomsae Championships last May.
The following month, Ninobla also ruled the Smart/MVP Sports Foundation Online Poomsae Taekwondo Championships.
Other gold medalists were UST's Nicole Labayne (female junior), Diliman Preparatory School's Ian Matthew Corton (male junior), Small World Christian School Foundation's Aesha Kiara Oglayon (female cadet), and Ateneo de Iloilo's Cyd Edryc Esmaña (male cadet).
The two-day competition took place via an online videosharing platform whereas participants take turns performing routines. These are then aired live on the Philippine Taekwondo Association’s Facebook page.