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Olsim and Pa-ac: A tale of two champs

Olsim & Pa-ac
Olsim (left) and Pa-ac: Team Lakay champions.(With reports from Gab Ferreras)

THE sky is the limit as far as Jenelyn Olsim and Jomar James Pa-ac of Team Lakay are concerned.

The two fast-rising mixed martial arts champions from Baguio City are looking forward for more breakthrough wins on a year sports are looking to find the groove back during the pandemic.

We just have to stay in shape, stay positive and stay ready,” said Olsim during the weekly “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.

“The opportunity could come anytime, so we have to continue our training and continue to improve our skills before we get our turn to the octagon,” Pa-ac told the weekly public service program presented by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Ganes and Amusements Board (GAB).

Both Olsim, nicknamed “The Graceful”, and Pa-ac believe the best is yet to come.

This could be a big year,” said the 23-year-old Olsim, who rose to prominence with a smashing third-round victory over world No. 5 Brazilian Maira Mazar in her “ONE Championship: Fists of Fury III” debut in Singapore last March 20.

Olsim, the pride of Bokod, Benguet who joined Team Lakay only last year, now hopes to go up the rankings even if it means fighting any of the top four in the strawweight category .

Wala pang naka-schedule, but I hope to meet No. 4 strawweight Ayaka Miura of Japan in the future. Then sunod yung iba. I want to go after the belt,” claimed Olsim, who is taking up Political Science at University of Baguio

The Team Lakay standout, who was also named “Best Fighter” with a two-gold medal romp in the 2018 East Asian Games, is also preparing for another opportunity to represent the country.

A member of the national muay thai team that took the silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Clark, hopes to perform even better in the biennial competition to be held Nov. 21-Dec. 2 in Vietnam.

Sa Muay Thai naman, we’re waiting on the update sa SEA Games,” said Olsim, younger sister of Jerry “The Bokodian Warrior” Olsim.

“Pero sabi nga ni Maam Pearl (Managuelod), isasama ako sa team at babawi kami para maka-gold medal. Yun tumalo sa akin dati baka siya din uli makalaban ko sa Vietnam. Pero bago yun, magkaroon din kami ng bubble training.

Olsim admitted she and her Team Lakay teammates are also adjusting to the restrictions due to the current health situation.

Mahirap din talaga yun pabago-bago ang restrictions, kahit dito sa Baguio. Sumusunod na lang po kami sa mga requirements, kaya hindi kagaya dati na nakakapag-hard training kami. Pero at least always open ang gym kaya lagi kaming nakapag-training everyday.

Asked about her upset victory in the ONE Championship, Olsim admitted she was really a big underdog going into the fight.

“Talaga pong underdog ako kasi yun kalaban ranked No. 5 tapos ako unang laban ko pa lang sa ONE. Sabi nga ng iba, parang i-papakain nila ako kay Mazar para tumaas uli ang ranking nya dahil natalo siya sa huling laban nya,”recalled Olsim.

Pero siyempre, pnaghandaan talaga namin siya nila Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao Talagang ni-review namin yun mga laban nya, pinag-aralan at gumawa ng game plan.

Added Olsim: “Sabi nga ni coach Mark,malakas siya sa wrestling pero patas lang kami sa striking. Kaya yun ang talagang hinasa namin. Yung submission na panalo ko, parte talaga ng game plan namin.

Pa-ac, on the other hand, is looking to make a comeback under Team Lakay.

A former Brave Combat Federation fighter, Pa-ac said he keeps a strict training regimen to stay in good physical shape.

I stay active in training while waiting for my opportunity to show my skills,” claimed the 24-year-old Pa-ac, who boasts of a 6-2-0 win-loss-draw record.

He agreed with Olsim’s observation that training and preparation should continue even during the pandemic.

Puspusan pa din ang training namin kahit may mga restrictions. We just follow the protocols. We make sure na we do home training everyday,” explained Pa-ac, also a second-year law student.

I hope gumanda na ang panahon at maging okay na lahat para matuloy na yung mga events. Hopefully, matuloy yung mga na-cancel na events dati para maipakita po natin ang skills naming mga taga-Team Lakay.

Pa-ac, who previously fought for the Bahrain-based Brave FC, claimed winning the gold medal in the SEA Games is their main concern.

“Dapat manalo ng gold talaga. Yun ang pinaghahandaan namin kahit ngayong may pandemic. Yung confidence at experience, malaking bagay yun,” said Pa-ac, a former teacher at the University of Cordilleras.

He said he admired the examples shown by his older teammates n the famed Baguio stable.

It’s not only their physical prowess that I admired. More importantly, I like their values outside of the cage, which helped me become better.

When it comes to handling defeat, nakikita ko sa mga seniors ko sa pagkatalo nila nandun pa din yung fire sa kanila.

Nakaka-inspire yung dedication nila sa training kasi kahit walang laro andun sila sa gym every day.Nakakainspire and nakaka-push to do the same,” he added.

He felt bad bout the news that some of his Team Lakay teammates tested positive for the coronavirus.

We really feel bad about it kasi yung preparations nila matindi talaga. Malaki din yun mga sacrifices nila. I just have to thank God na okay pa kami,” added Pa-ac.