By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Two Filipina kickboxers just recently concluded their Southeast Asian Games trip with back-to-back medals last May 16, 2023, held at the Elephant Hall 1 of the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Gretel De Paz and Gina Iniong, two of the most talented kickboxers the Philippines produced, won a gold and a silver medal, respectively, in two different weight classes.
De Paz reigned supreme in the women’s under-56 kg division of the low kick event after dominating her Indonesian foe Susanti Ndapataka in the gold medal match.
Quick and decisive with her blows, De Paz put up a masterful hitting performance against Ndapataka and was efficient with her high-volume kicks.
Before punching a ticket to the grand finals, De Paz first surpassed the challenge presented by Vy Sreychhay in the final four.
The Cambodian stalwart was stunned by De Paz’s speed in throwing her kicks and failed to redeem herself in the last round.
It was also a successful bounce-back campaign for De Paz after failing to clinch the championship title in the 2022 edition of the SEA Games held in Vietnam.
De Paz lost against a veteran kickboxer, Diandra Peter from Indonesia, and was already locked in during the off-season training camp of the national team several months ago.
Meanwhile, Iniong, a former wushu champion and a professional mixed martial artist (MMA), settled for the silver medal in the women’s kick light under-55 kg category.
Iniong lost at the hands of Indonesia in the championship fight and failed to win back-to-back gold medals in the biennial sporting event.
The Filipina MMA legend defeated Thailand in the first elimination match and followed it up with a huge win over Cambodia in the semifinals.