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Lagman-Lizardo: The champion hopes to become the mother of champions

taekwondo family
The taekwondo family.
Poomsae women's team
The 2009 World Poomsae women’s team champions.
Janice Lagman
Janice Lagman-Lizardo.

TWELVE years after winning the world poomsae team championship and helping Filipino women athletes break taekwondo barriers, Janice Lagman-Lizardo is still deeply in love with the sport.

In fact, she is married to another well-known taekwondo champion Japoy Lizardo and now well on the way to building future taekwondo champions with their two young boys, Jace and Javi.

Taekwondo runs in the family. It’s something we all love,” said Lagman-Lizardo during a special “Women’s Month” appearance in the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom recently.

We re very happy with what taekwondo has given us and now we want to pay it forward by sharing our knowledge and expertise even thru online classes,” added Lagman-Lizardo, who rose to prominence when she teamed up with her cousins Rani Ann Ortega and Camille Alarilla to capture the coveted gold medal in the fourth World Poomsae Championships in Cairo, Egypt in 2009.

The Lizardo couple now hopes to help raise a new generation of taekwondo champions through their personalized training program at the Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.

Before the pandemic struck, the husband and wife tandem is teaching both young and old taekwondo athletes.

So far, so good. We continued teaching even online. Hanggang ngayon, marami pa ring online classes. Parents are asking for it to keep their kids active and encourage them to level up with their belts. They even have achievement tests usually given every two months,” explained Lagman- Lizardo, one of five female “Athletes of the Year” in 2009 by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA).

We even join PTA Online Poomsae and Speed Kicking para tuloy-tuloy ang training at competition nila,” added Lagman-Lizardo 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).

Asked what advise she could give to fellow parents whose children show interest in sports, the 33-year-old Lagman-Lizardo urged them to encourage their children to get into sports as early as possible.

Based on experience, we just have to let our children to explore whatever sports they want. Parents should not limit them to only one sport. Let your kids explore and let them enjoy and choose whatever they like. It’s really hard for them to do something they do not like and they will not excel in it,” said Lagman-Lizardo.

Lagman-Lizardo readily agreed with the observation that kids should get into sports early in life.

Sa personal observations ko, they (kids) can start as early as 5-6 years old pag may formal lessons. Pero may mga gyms na din nag-a-accept na ng toddlers na ang age 3-5 years old They have that like for play, kicking and punching. As early as that age, pwede na sila to join taekwondo.

Bukod sa taekwondo madami din akong sinubok na sports. I tried volleyball, swimming and tennis and I can say nag-enjoy naman ako sa lahat. Pero dito sa taekwondo ako talaga tumagal at nag-excel.Yun ang naging experience ko at ganun din ang gagawin ko sa mga kids ko.”

Lagman-Lizardo said her two boys are now both showing interest in taekwondo.

Jace, now 4, wants to be a Milo boy like his Dad Japoy. He is already showing some potential. Exposure lang talaga. He is still exploring, like yesterday he did some flying sidekicks na parang Dad niya.”

The doting taekwondo champion-mother said there is no pressure for the boys to follow their footsteps, but hopes they can set their own goals in the future.

We’ll share our own experiences and achievements so they can set their own goals. Maybe they want to be like dad and mom. Hopefully maging successful din sila at maging gold medalist din. As parents, we want them to be Olympians in the future. Walang pressure but we will try to mold them as next Olympians. I-claim na natin.

Will she be a stage mother-coach?

Actually si Daddy Japoy gusto blackbelt sila. Pero pag hindi competitive, kunwari blackbelt siya pero swimming na nagle-level up ang galing. I am not sure kung ako personal magtuturo. I will teach them in a way pero siguro I will let someone teach. Kasi ako na-experience ko sa brother ko na minsan naiinis ako na parang ano ba yan. Siguro sa kids ko, nandun ako sa gilid to guide them.

Parang side coach lang na iba ang approach at treatment.

Lagman-Lizardo is also not closing the door on making a comeback.

As an athlete, I’m not that active anymore. Pero sabi nga nila, anytime pwede akong tawagin. We’re not closing doors kasi sa event namin, merong age group na hanggang 60 or 65 years old and above. May age na pasok ako sa category. Pwede pa din naman with my two cousins (Camille Alarilla and Rani Ann Ortega),” she explained.

Pero I will make sure to stay fit and competitive. Kahit walang face-to-face, I try to squeeze in some training. As you all know, may mga competitions kami online like poomsae at speed kicking.

On online speedkicking competitions now being pushed by the PTA due to the pandemic, Lagman-Lizardo believes it is something to look forward to.

Sa tingin ko, mas exciting pa rin kasi talaga ang sparring (Kyorugi). But the shift to online competitions is also necessary. The other countries are also now interested dahil meron na ngayong ASEAN at Global Online Speed Kicking. PTA ang nagpasimula nito kaya nakaka-proud din. I am also excited. I can imagine na nag-speed kicking ng actual na parang may imaginary partner na mag-sparring sila.

Shifting her thoughts on women in sports, Lagman-Lizardo is happy that there are now more female taekwondo athletes.

After winning in the World Championships in 2009 and SEA Games, we noticed na talagang nag-boom ang poomsae that time. Madaming girls ang gusto na rin mag-taekwondo,”she claimed.

Sa taekwondo, you can do both pero you can focus on only one. Sa poomsae, dumami na ang female jins ngayon. I am so happy, lalo na madaming achievers na nag-national team na at nakapag-uwi ng mga medals sa international competitions.

“Sometimes sa mga summer classes namin, nagugulat ako na nag-dodominate ang mga female kids kaysa sa male. Palaban na talaga ang mga female taekwondo athletes natin ngayon.

Among the present stars now representing the country, Lagman-Lizardo have four prominent names on mind: Pauline Lopez, Kirstine Alora, Samuel Morrison and Arven Alcantara.

In my event na poomsae, hindi pa pasok sa Olympics. Pero sa sparring, I know they’re preparing very hard for the Olympic qualifying in the bubble training. Sina Pauline Lopez, Kirstine Alora, Samuel Morrison at Arven Alcantara. They’re really training very hard right now. Malaki ang chance nila. Sana mag-Tokyo Olympics sila.

(With reports from Gab Ferreras/Photos from Janice Lizardo’s social media page).