FORMER world taekwondo champion Rinna Babanto is finding ways to get even better through regular training despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Babanto, who bagged two silver medals in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila last December, is confident that national taekwondo team members can keep up their good showing in international competitions once the health situation gets better.
“We continue to work hard even during this pandemic.Our coaches want all of us in the national team to be always ready to compete and represent the country,” said Babanto during the 10th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom yesterday.
The 23-year-old pride of Cebu said she regularly trains at La Salle where she is currently staying to keep herself physically and mentally fit.
“We have to be always ready,” Babanto told sports editors and reporters during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
A sports management student at La Salle, Babanto lauded the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) for keeping the athletes busy through online competitions even during the quarantine.
“The PTA is holding online poomsae competitions every other month, which is good dahil nakapag-participate yun ibang mga bata who are just staying at home,” explained Babanto, who rose to prominence by winning the gold medal in the under-17 women’s team event in the 8th wold Poomsae Championship in Bali, Indonesia in 2013.
“Our coach regularly gives us assignments as part of our attendance. We train everyday. We even watch motivational and psychological videos from our coaches. So, kahit stranded ako dito sa Manila, hindi naman ako mag-isa. May bonding pa din kami ng mga teammates ko kahit ngayon may pandemic,”added Babanto, who wrapped up her collegiate career with La Salle by winning the UAAP Season 81 Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
Babanto claimed she is not worried being stranded in Manila during the quarantine.
“Matagal na akong independent at matagal na din ako sa national team.I’m known for my mental toughness. Iba yun switch ng utak ko pag-dating sa game,” she said.
Aside from being a multi-awarded taekwondo campaigner, Babanto also made a name in the UAAP taekwondo competitions.
In 2018, Babanto captured the gold medals in the individual female and mixed pair events, helping La Salle to bring the crown back to Taft Ave.
Babanto finished with 8.180 to beat her fellow Asian Games bronze medalists, Nikki Oliva of University of the Philippines (8.100) and Juvenile Faye Crisostomo of Far Eastern University (7.900) for the gold medal.
Her gold medal-winning efforts enabled her to win the MVP honor for the UAAP Season 81 poomsae tournament.
“I’m very hapy napag-champion ko uli ang La Salle,” Babanto recalled.
Asked about her plans right after graduation, Babanto said she is looking forward to become a coach.
“Right now I’m working on my thesis. Wala na akong plano na mag take ng masteral and continue to be a part of the UAAP team. Focus na sa national team and maybe, coaching.”
Her next tournament will be the coming “Best of the Best” taekwondo tournament sometime this year.
“Let’s see what happens,” said Babanto.
Babanto was joined during the two-hour program shown live on Facebook and YouTube by Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion, PBA legend Emer Legaspi of Toyota and Ballout Hoops founder Cris Bautista.