Five Taekwondo jins from the U.S., Russia, Canada, Mexico and Japan fell victims to the superiority of Joseph Babista en route to a gold medal finish at the 2014 Open Taekwondo Championships in Las Vegas this month.
The victory was a big win for the young athlete who took to the sport when he was only six years old in the Philippines. Although burning with intent desire to carry the Philippine colors in this year’s prestigious tournament he was precluded from using the Philippine flag “because his application for a Global Athletic License which would have permitted him to wave the flag had to be submitted from the Philippines.” He competed under the banner of Salims Taekwondo where he trains.
Winning the gold was a fitting exclamation point in Joseph’s weight class (Cadet Division 12-14 years old) as he will move into a heavier weight (Junior Division) in next year’s competition.
Joseph shares his achievement to his kababayan whom the young athlete hopes to inspire “to be the best in their chosen field and instill pride in their being Pinoys.”
Joseph’s gold medal in the featherweight class division enabled him to join the roster of 13 other gold medalists of the U.S. at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino whose total medal harvest of 54 medals (14 gold, 12 silver and 28 bronze) overwhelmed second placer Mexico (10 medals) and Canada (8 medals). The Americans earned medals in each of the day’s 20 cadet divisions.
Joseph’s parents, ICU Nurse Marie and Health Educator Rommel Babista, are typical Filipinos who would stop at nothing to develop the full potentials of their children.
At the 2013 U.S. Taekwondo Open Championships in Las Vegas, Joseph settled with a bronze medal but earned the distinction of “being the first Filipino to represent the Philippines in the tournament who actually won a medal”.
In that tournament where he also competed in the Flyweight Division, Joseph was an underdog where 38 others vied for top honors. En route to a bronze medal finish, the determined youngster defeated two Americans one of whom was a National and AAU Champion.
Joseph was only six years old when he was introduced to the sport by his mom “who wanted an outlet by which to channel his full energy”.
Joseph’s family migrated to the U.S. in 2010 when he was a fourth grader at the La Salle Greenhills. He trained under the watchful eyes of former Olympians.
In United States alone, Joseph’s medal harvest consisted of 2 golds (2011 State Games of America, 2011 California Open Taekwondo Championships); 3 Silvers (2011 California United Taekwondo Association Championships, 2012 National Qualifiers Lightweight Division), and 2 bronzes (2011 National Qualifiers, 2013 U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships under Team Philippines).
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art developed by a variety of Korean masters in the 1940s. The sport which combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise has been an Olympic event since 2000.
In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”, “method”, or “path”. Taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and the hand.”
Taekwondo’s popularity has been short of phenomenal when it got a global boost in the1988 Seoul Olympics where it was introduced as a demonstration sport
Lots of people are interested in improving themselves and want to get fitter, mentally tougher and learn to defend themselves and training in Taekwondo is a great way to do this.