NAY PYI TAW – Rookie Jade Zafra won the gold medal Thursday in the 27th Southeast Asian Games with one healthy leg.
She sustained ankle and shin injuries during her tough semifinal win over Vietnamese Thi Ha Thanh Lam in the semifinals.
But quitting was not an option, not when the gold medal was tantalizingly close, according to Zafra.
“Sayang po lahat ng dinaanan ko kung hihinto pa ako,” said the 23-year-old University of Santo Tomasn graduate. “Basta ang sabi lang ng coach ko, ‘make me proud’.”
Following faithfully the game plan devised by coaches Dindo Simpao and Japoy Lizardo, Zafra surprisingly scored an easy 7-1 win over Thai Worawong Pongpanit to claim the gold medal in the women’s 53-37-kilogram division.
The gold medal would have not been possible if not for Zafra’s gutsy stand in the semifinals.
Zafra saw her lead diminish by Thi who eventually forced sudden death.
“Pagod po ako sobra kasi nakita ko po na madaling i-head kick. Kaso naubusan po ako ng stamina,” she said.
Zafra, however, came through, scoring on a head kick to win the sudden death.
Against the Thai, Zafra said she was advised not to initiate action and let her opponent come to her.
“Pag sumugod po, block lang po ang mga sipa tapos sabayan. Huwag pong sugod ng sugod, kasi doon ako nadadale,” she said.
The triumph came two years after she underwent surgery for a broken bone near her eye as a result of a kick she received from Kirstie Ellaine Alora during sparring.
The accident prevented Zafra from competing in Palembang, Indonesia.
Zafra said she doesn’t regret giving up a job as editorial assistant in a sports website to be able to train for the Games.
She’s hoping to compete in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Zafra said she owes her victory to Simpao who put in a lot of time and effort to prepare her for the Games.
“Make me proud,” Zafra quoted Simpao as saying when she went into action.
Zafra said she’s happy for the trust and confidence given by Simpao and taekwondo official Hong Sung Chon.