KUALA LUMPUR- Reigning champion Jessie Aligaga and former titleholder Benjie Rivera barged into the finals of the 12th World Wushu Championships here.
Aligaga, the pride of Iloilo who stands a shade over five-feet, beat his taller opponent W.L. Gunasekara of Sri Lanka in the 48kg sanda class.
The win was a repeat of Aligaga’s vicitory over the same Sri Lankan on his way to winning the gold during the last edition of this same tournament.
The Filipino will meet Song Bu Er of China for the gold.
Rivera also carved out an easy win over Lee Wei Loong of the host country in their 52kg. class encounter.
A world gold medallist in 2005, Rivera reverted to his original weight class and battles Hoang Hung Tu of Vietnam in the finals.
A native of Baguio City, Rivera previously fought in the 56kg class where he netted a pair of bronze in 2007 and 2011, respectively.
Jean Claude Saclag of Baguio City and Evita Elise Zamora of Davao City settled for bronze medals in their maiden campaign in the meet.
Saclag bowed to Vietnamese Ban Van Trong, while Zamora was shown the door by Irani Elahe Mansoryan Samiroumi, who went on to win the gold in the 52kg class.
Meanwhile, John Keithley Chan also of Baguio, was shoved out of the medal podium in juniors spearplay after being beaten by Chu Chi Wai of Macau, 9.64-9.61. Chan won the gold in this same event in 2009.
Despite suffering setbacks, PH team manager Tony Candelaria is proud of the way the Filipinos have performed so far, saying, “This early I would say the team has been doing a remarkable job. We are in the process of rebuilding.”