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Meggie Ochoa, Annie Ramirez hope Asian Games wins fuel interest in jiu-jitsu

MANILA, Philippines, October 14 ------ Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez have shown jiu-jitsu has an untapped potential to be a medal-rich sport for the country. Ochoa and Ramirez aspire for jiu-jitsu to gain more attention from here on as they delivered half of the Philippines’ four gold medals in the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. “Hopefully, this will be a breakthrough for our sport because there are only a few Filipinos who win medals in the Asian Games, and the fact that half of our gold medals came from jiu-jitsu is a big statement,” said Ochoa. “I really hope that because of this, more people get to know jiu-jitsu.”

For Ochoa, Filipinos of any size can find success in the sport. The five-foot Ochoa is a testament to that, having won a pair of gold medals in the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship on top of more mints in the Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship and Southeast Asian Games. Ochoa added there was an abundance of experienced Filipino jiu-jitsu practitioners who are capable of guiding the next generation. “Filipinos can excel in this sport because number one, we already have high level athletes here in the country. There is a wealth of knowledge that can be shared to the youth,” said Ochoa. “Body type wise, we’re perfect for it because look at me, I’m small.”

Ramirez, also a world champion and a three-time SEA Games titlist, said Filipinos are made for jiu-jitsu because of their ability to overcome adversity. Opening up about her mental health, Ramirez said she battled anxiety after dropping her opening match in the 2018 edition in Jakarta, Indonesia. This time, though, Ramirez held her nerve on the way to the women’s 57kg crown after toppling Kazakhstan’s Galina Duvanova in the final.

Meanwhile, Ochoa fought through flu and a hip injury to edge UAE’s Balqees Abdulla in the final for the women’s 48kg title. Kaila Napolis added a bronze in the women’s 52kg class as jiu-jitsu notched the second-most medals for the Philippines behind wushu, which produced four. “No matter what we go through, we’re able to overcome them. For my personal experience, there were a lot of struggles, but we’re able to get past them. We’re able to bounce back,” said Ramirez.

Ochoa, though, acknowledged that it will take a lot of work for jiu-jitsu to become a household name among Filipinos. “When you watch jiu-jitsu, it looks like they’re just hugging. Even learning how to watch jiu-jitsu, knowing what is happening, we need to educate the people,” said Ochoa. “A lot of work needs to be done.”



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