CJ Concepcion has already proven himself to be one of the top fencers in the country.
A former UAAP MVP in his own right, the University of the East stalwart was out to prove that he belongs with the elites.
He did just that this 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The 22-year-old fencer pushed Vu Thanh An to the limit in their gold-medal match before eventually bowing out, 15-13 in the finals of men's inidivual sabre on Tuesday.
It was Vu's third gold medal in the biennial meet, one which Concepcion rued he wasn't able to derail.
"Pangatlo na niya ngayon na gold medal. Sayang lang kasi di ko na-break yung streak niya," he said.
There's no denying that Concepcion's caliber could be at par with Vu, who has made it and was even the flagbearer for Vietnam in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
And that only boosts the Quezon City native's morale after this podium finish in his first SEA Games.
"Tumaas ang confidence level ko kasi unang una, naniwala ang coach ko sa akin," said Concepcion, whose progress was closely guided by his Korean mentor Kim Suengjun.
"Sinasabi niya na kaya ko, so lagi kong iniisip na kaya ko. More on training lang kami ng coach ko. Strict talaga siya sa amin. Kung training, training. Kung laro, laro. Kung patay, patay."
Already gauging himself on the same caliber as Vu, Concepcion is wishing that he gets another crack at his Vietnamese foe sooner or later.
"Maybe next time, kung maglalaro pa siya, pwedeng kami ulit ang magkatapat at aim pa rin natin yung gold," he said.