Japoy Lizardo embraces new challenge in transition from star athlete to national coach
A hamstring injuy forced Japoy Lizardo to retire at the age of 29. Reuben Terrado

JAPOY Lizardo is enjoying the transition from star athlete to coach as the one of the youngest members of the Philippine taekwondo team's coaching staff tasked to hone the future stars of the sport.

Lizardo enters the coaching ranks at the young age of 29 after a torn tendon in his left hamstring three years ago forced him to retire early.

“Nung 2013, na-injured ako. After surgery, bumalik ako nung 2014. After nun, iba na talaga kapag may injury na,” Lizardo explained in an interview with SPIN.ph during the recent Asia Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila.

“Sobrang ibang experience sa pagiging athlete. More than a year na rin ako nagco-coach sa national team at tinutulungan naman ako ng mga senior coaches,” he added.

Lizardo had a decorated career that saw him win gold medals in the 2005 and 2011 Southeast Asian Games and a bronze in the 2010 Asian Games.

Even though his athletic career is done, Lizardo said he enjoys the different challenges and perspective he gets as a coach compared to being an athlete.

“Mahirap din ‘yung pagiging coach kasi siyempre, after a game, hindi pa dun natatapos ‘yung pressure, kaba, at tension. Iba-iba ‘yung nafe-feel namin compared sa pagiging atleta na pagkatapos ng laro mo, parang okay na. Kapag coach, all-around inaasikaso mo sila,” said Lizardo.

“Parang mga anak or kapatid na bunso,” he added.

Lizardo is also proud that one of their taekwondo jins in Kirstie Elaine Alora qualified for the Olympics, a first since his former teammates in the national team, Tshomlee Go and Marie Antoinette Rivero, made it to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Kaming mga coaches, masaya kami kasi lahat kami nagtulong-tulong. Nagbunga ‘yung hardwork ni Elaine, ‘yung mga sacrifices niya, nagbunga din. Ngayon na lang uli tayo nagkaroon ng Olympian,” said Lizardo.

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