James De los Santos climbs to No. 4 in world ranking after winning gold in virtual karate

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) — Coming off a silver finish just last May, Filipino karateka James de los Santos set up another dominant performance to bag the gold this time in the Korokotta Cup 2020 E-Tournament.

The 30-year-old athlete bested 18 competitors from 11 nations to bag the top prize in the men’s senior individual kata category where he defeated South Africa’s Silvio Cerone-Biagionil, 5-0, in the final round.

“Aside from training hard for this tournament, believing in yourself and performing from the heart is what made me snag the gold,” De los Santos told CNN Philippines. “You also have to want it so much, which brought out the best I performed so far.”

With the win, De los Santos also set a new career-high in virtual kata rankings, climbing to world no. 4 and moving up two places higher than his ranking in May.

“I felt very happy when I found out that the Korokotta Cup added points to the Actual World Rankings for Virtual Kata. To jump from no. 6 to no. 4 was a huge honor not just for me, but for the country,” he shared.

While the sporting world is put to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic, De los Santos admits he’s not one to take a timeout. The country’s top kata athlete has found his way to adapt to the new normal by diligently training and competing online.

“I looked back at my previous performances together with my kata coach, Masa Saito, and made improvements on them. But I feel that I can do much more,” he confided. “I will continue to train harder, especially for any more upcoming virtual tournaments. I’d love to bring home more virtual medals and to boost my world ranking for the country.”