Pinoy karateka wins 15 golds in virtual tournaments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 15) - The movement restrictions brought by the pandemic became a blessing in disguise for Filipino karateka James Delos Santos.

The 30-year old karateka collected 15 gold medals since virtual karate tournaments started in March, on his way to become the World No. 1 in the virtual kata male rankings.

Delos Santos last won his two golds on Monday, when he topped the 1st Euro Grand Prix E-Tournament and the E-Karate Games.

"I would say that I'm still waiting for the points to be tallied so that I could be officially called the number one but the points hasn't been added yet so I'm just waiting for that moment," Delos Santos said.

The Filipino karateka shared to CNN Philippines the idea of joining e-karate tournaments started when his friend from the American karate team asked him to try participating in those competitions.

"A teammate of mine sent me an invitation to the Palestine international tournament that was my first virtual tournament and my first gold medal. So after it happened, that got me more curious to finding out if there were more virtual tournaments out there," Delos Santos said.

Delos Santos added the e-karate competitions also become a way for him to cope with his self-doubts and frustrations brought by recent struggles in his academic life as an advertising major in De La Salle University and the pandemic.

"When the whole lockdown happened, I just really focused on training just to stay healthy and fit but then you know as time passed, I grew frustrated, I would ask myself, I would have doubts like what other reasons why I have to continue my training," he said.

Delos Santos credited his Japanese coach Masa Saito for his achievements in the virtual karate tournaments he joined.

"He noticed that my performance has been improving in every tournament that I've been competing in because I do believe that the tournaments are also a piece in becoming a top athlete aside from training," the karateka shared.

Delos Santos admitted he misses the physical karate competition as he loves the feeling of competing in front of many people and entertaining the crowd. But with the pandemic far from over, he relishes every opportunity given to him while competing at the comfort of his home.

"I just told myself, just go out there and enjoy the moment and give everything you have because you've trained hard for those moments," he said.

Delos Santoswill shoot for his 16th gold against a karateka from South Africa on Thursday.