World Combat Games 2023 gold medalist Kaila Napolis admitted she had to be at her very best when she dominated the women’s -52-kilogram Ne-Waza in jiu-jitsu.
Napolis, who also pocketed the bronze medal in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, said in a radio interview she had to be more disciplined as she faced tougher and more seasoned opponents in her category.
“It came down to technique. I was a bit loose in the Asian Games so I had to make sure to not make any mistakes in the tournament,” Napolis said.
“The competition was dense as only eight of the best athletes were invited.”
Napolis, 25, defeated France’s Annael Pannatier, 2-0, to get the gold medal.
But to get there, the 2023 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist had to beat Colombia’s Adriana Cruz, 6-0, in the quarterfinal and earn a submission win against Mongoljin Ganbaatar of Mongolia in the semifinal.
Cruz and Ganbataar are part of the Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Pro circuit where some of the toughest athletes compete.
Napolis is just relieved everything went to plan for her as she was the lone gold medalist so far for the Philippines in the tournament.
The national wushu team previously churned out two silver courtesy of Agatha Wong, Clemente Tabugara Jr. and two bronze medals thanks to Thomton Sayan and Jones Inso.
Wrestlers Maria Aisa Ratcliff and Fierre Proudhon Afan added two more bronze medals for the Philippines, resulting to a 1-2-4 gold-silver-bronze medal tally.
“Your moves in the tournament have to be perfect and we’re glad everything we had in our strategies was executed,” Napolis said.
Napolis is slated to compete for the Philippines at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games starting on 24 February 2024 in Bangkok.