Wong Wong: Poster girl of Philippine wushu.

Agatha Wong, “Poster Girl” of Philippine wushu, keeps the faith

November 26, 2021 Ed Andaya 629 views

FOR Agatha Chrystenzen Wong, the “Poster Girl” of Philippine wushu for a long time now, the best is yet to come.

Wong, now 23, believes there’s a lot more to do in achieving individual glory and providing pride and joy to the country.

And there’s no secret to Wong’s success but hard work.

“I’ve been asked this question many times already, and I have always the same answer: hard work,”said Wong during the 128th edition of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Nov. 18.

“If there’s one advise I can give to aspiring wushu athletes or anybody who are interested in sports right now, it is to always give 110 percent effort — be it in training and actual competition,” added Wong during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

“And of course, enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t forget to enjoy the sport that youre in.”

A three-time gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games in 2017 Kuala Lumpur and 2019 Manila, Wong believes she can still do more.

Wong, the daughter of a Filipino- Chinese businessman from Dagupan and a Filipino-American mother, learned wushu at an early age and started competing when she was only eight years old.

She continued to do so until now — 15 years later.

“My advise is don’t stop. Usually when you see other people who are better, you always compare yourself. Kahit baguhan ka, iisipin mo kailangan manalo ka din. It’s good to have a winning attitude always, but you have to know your own strengths and weaknesses. You have to know your limits and work on improving yourself. Keep on persevering,” explained Wong, who graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Consular and Diplomatic Affairs degree at the La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

Wong admitted the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in sports also affected her like most of her fellow athletes.

“If you ask me, mahirap talaga sa mga atleta. Wala pa ring tatalo sa face-to-face in both training and competition. You really feel the nerves. Talagang may kaba, may nerbyos, may excitement. Iba yun may audience from your own country and other countries. Iba yun nanduon ang mga coaches and teammates mo para sa iyo,” explained Wong.

“Sa online, it’s all up to you. It’s up to your own discipline, your own consistency. Syempre hindi mo na nakikita ang mga kalaban kasi they’re off the grid dahil online. For me, medyo mas controlled yung nervousness dahil walang audience. Then your coach can check your own form after you record it. I’m very happy na din na naranasan ko mag-compete online last year dahil wala ngang competitions.

Wong, who also captured the silver medal in the 2015 World Championships in Jakarta and bronze medal in 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, also said she did not allow the pandemic to affect her training.

“I remembered when I was in China in 2019, we trained twice a day. Walang masyadong time to review my own videos. This pandemic, talagang nanood ako ng madaming videos ng iba’t ibang athletes from different countries. Madami talaga akong natutunan, like techniques on how they jump.”

“Ever since I was young, ganun lagi. Magpa-practice ako sa harapan ng salamin ko sa banyo then i-compare ko sa napanood kong videos para makagawa ng sarili kong form. Sa Taolu kasi kailangan gagawa ka ng sarili mong form. Sometimes, I compare myself versus China or Vietnam. Titignan ko kung ano ang kulang sa akin na meron sa kanila at ano ang kulang sa kanila na meron ako,” recalled Wong, who also tried karate and swimming in her younger days.

“You don’t have to always rely on motivation or inspiration. But you always have to rely on discipline. Sometimes when you wake up, walang yung motivation or inspiration by your side. So you have to rely on discipline. By the time you reach a certain level, you will know what works for you. You will know what road will lead you to success. In sports, it’s all about trying to improve everyday. And you just have to do your best and enjoy.”

Asked about her plans in the future, Wong did not rule out the possibility of sharing her talents by coaching aspiring wushu athletes.

“Right now, I’m just trying to do my sports for as long as my body can because I really love wushu. I enjoy representing our country in international competitions. At 23, I am still at my prime. I guess retirement age for wushu is about 29-30 years old. I think yung pinakamatandang wushu athlete na nakita ko is about 32 to 33 years old,” explained Wong.

“But I guess coaching is not out of the question. Even now madaming parents ang lumalapit sa akin and asking me if I can help and coach their children. It’s possible na mag coach din ako, but not in the immediate future.”

For now, Wong and her fellow national team members under Wushu Federation of the Philippines (WFP) president Freddie Jalasco and former world champion- turned-coach Samson Co have their sights set only in the coming SEA Games in Vietnam and other international competitions next year.

“Our main focus right now is to get back into the groove. In the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, kundisyon talaga kaming lahat. Physically and mentally ready ang team. So sana maibalik yung condition in time for next year’s SEA Games in Hanoi,” added Wong.

“It”s hard, but we will do our best.” with reports from Gab Ferreras.