PH karateka John Paul Bejar reaches final after protest upheld, but fails to capitalize
John Paul Bejar lost to Indonesia's Iwan Bidu Sirait in the final, 10-4, despite holding a 3-0 lead early. Jerome Ascano

KUALA LUMPUR - John Paul Bejar settled for the silver medal in karatedo on Wednesday, unable to capitalize on a break after a protest went in the Philippines'favor in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.

Bejar reached the finals of the men's -55kg kumite when organizers upheld the protest of the Philippines that reversed the semifinal win of his Malaysian opponent Premi Kumar Al Selvam.

The Filipino bet was certain his Malaysian opponent clearly made four penalties in the match, an infraction that should have resulted in a loss.

"Alam ko rin sa sarili ko kasi alam ko 'yung rules. Nag-iisip ako bakit hindi siya nape-penalty," said Bejar, who cited the penalties of not engaging for 20 seconds twice, a grabbing penalty, and stepping outside the mat by the Malaysian opponent.

"'Yun na 'yung time na nag-rereact ako," he added.

Philippine Karatedo Federation secretary general Raymond Lee Reyes said they were initially hesitant to file a protest, which will require a fee of $300, but decided to go through with it following a review of his Facebook Live broadcast.

"Sabi sa akin nung isang Iranian referee, wag na mag-protest kasi sayang 'yung pera, pero sabi ng coach ko, wag maniwala kaya tinuloy namin 'yung protesta. Mabuti na lang pinakita ko 'yung FB Live ko," he said.

However, Bejar was not able to capitalize on the favorable ruling as he lost to Indonesia's Iwan Bidu Sirait in the final, 10-4.

The 22-year-old from Far Eastern University already had a 3-0 lead but slowly lost the advantage against the Indonesian karateka.

"May konting disappointment kasi ang target namin is gold this day. Pero hindi ko nakuha tapos ako 'yung last player na maglalaro sa individual," said Bejar.

"Parang na-excite ako masyado. Gusto ko na kainin 'yung kalaban ko. Alam kong kaya ko siya. Gusto ko i-dominate pero nung last one minute, medyo nangigil ako," he added.

Mae Soriano won a bronze in the women's -55kg kumite but John Michael Vincent Badil (men's -75kg kumite), Miyuki Tacay (women's -68kg kumite), and Sharief Afif (men's -75kg) failed to win a bronze. 

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