KICKBOXER Claudine Veloso ruled the women’s 52kg K1 in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, to give Team Philippines its 58th and final gold medal in Cambodia last May 16.
The last one turned out to be the sweetest.
The victory came as a form of redemption for Veloso, who settled for the silver medal in the women’s low kick in the previous edition of the SEA Games in Hanoi where she felt robbed in a loss to Indonesia’s Amanda La Loupatty.
“Malaking factor [yung talo na yun] kasi part talaga siya sa 'kin. Kasi 'yun din 'yung first time ko noon sa [SEA Games] and pinaghirapan ko po talaga yun. Para sa akin, panalo talaga ako dun pero hindi nila binigay,” Veloso told SPIN.ph of her thoughts heading into Phnom Penh.
“Kaya pinaghandaan ko talaga lalo na yung kalaban ko noon na Indonesian. Unfortunately, hindi po siya lumaban, hindi niya po dinefend yung medal niya.”
Although a gold at the expense of La Loupatty would've been sweeter, the fighter out of Landslide MMA still holds the distinction of bringing the Filipinos’ final gold after beating Vietnam’s Bùi Hải Linh for her first SEA Games gold medal.
“Nagulat ako na, ‘Hala, ako pala ang nagtapos’... Yung plano pala ni Lord, ako pala yung last na mag-gold para sa Pilipinas.” she said.
More than making up for her personal loss, Veloso relished the honor of helping the country surpass its medal haul in the previous Games, so much so that she became emotional when she heard the national anthem played.
After months of preparation, Veloso said it was the perfect reward for all her hard work.
“Sobrang saya. Lalo na nung nag-pambansang awit ng Pilipinas. Sobrang naiyak ako nun kasi yun talaga ang goal ko noon. Nung nagte-training kami, [sabi ko] ipapatugtog ko yung pambansang awit,” said Veloso.
The kickboxer is now looking to turn professional.
“I’m still looking forward to it. Yun talaga yung goal ng isang amateur athlete, maging professional. Kung bibigyan ako ng pagkakataon ni Lord, iga-grab ko and paghahandaan ng mabuti.” said the former Team Lakay athlete.
Majority of her former teammates in the Baguio-based stable are fighting in Singapore promotion ONE Championship. Of note, ONE Championship has its own tournament for kickboxing.
Still, Veloso remains committed to competing for the Philippines as she’s also expected to see action in the upcoming Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok later this year.