Fierre Afan during awarding ceremony.

PH finishes second overall in UWW Asian Grappling Championship in Tagaytay behind Afan

THE Philippines led by world champion Fierre Afan proved itself as the next big grappling country in the continent after finishing second overall in the 2024 United World Wrestling (UWW) Asian Grappling Championship recently at the Tagaytay Combat Sports Arena in Tagaytay City.

Afan, 20, scored two gold medals in the weeklong tournament to lead the country to 16 gold medals, 26 silvers and 26 bronze medals to finish second overall in Asia behind No. 1 Kazakhstan with 39 golds and third place Singapore with two gold medals, five silvers and three bronzes.

“I’m very happy not only I won two gold medals but also seeing my fellow Filipinos winning golds also in Tagaytay City,” Afan, the country’s top grappler, said. “We proved that we could get along with powerhouse Asian teams like Kazakhstan in this combat sport of grappling.”

Afan bested Kazakhstan’s Alinur Beisen in the final of -77 kgs grappling gi event to cop his first gold after dominating India’s Rhagav Jamwal, Han Rong Darren Foo of Singapore and fellow Mib Burahan in previous bouts.

He also repeated against Beisen in the grappling no gi men’s -77 kgs championship to secure his second gold medal in the competition backed by the Philippine Olympic Committee headed by President Abraham Tolentino and the LCS Group of Companies.

Besides Afan, rising women grapplers Andrea Ocampo, Charlie Ratcliff and Annie Parungao bagged two gold medals each also in the competition hosted by the Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) headed by President Alvin Aguilar.

Ocampo scooped the gold medal in women’s grappling gi -53 kgs division after ruling Kazakhstan top grapplers Aruzhan Kuanyshkyzy, Aida Zhetpissova and Uzbekistan’s Ultu Askar in previous bouts. She beat the same two opponents from Kazakhstan to take home the -53 kgs grappling no gi gold.

Ratcliff, who also fought in 12 kgs heavier category, clinched the -56 kgs grappling gi and no gi gold medals after crushing Balsezim Bakyt of Kyrgyzstan in gi final before beating Singapore’s Giselle Divya Gomez in no gi final, respectively.

Parungao, who has a strong background in jiu-jitsu, claimed the -58 kgs gi and no gi gold medals.

Other gold medalists in the men’s class were Miguel Gutierrez (-58 kgs gi), Lucas Mateo Holganza (53 kgs gi U-15), Joaquin Marte (-63 kgs gi), Alonso Lucas Aguilar (-63 kgs gi), the son of Alvin Aguilar, and Joshua Dy (-84 kgs gi).

In women’s class, the gold winners were Yani Lopez (-48 kgs no gi), Clarisse Pasamba (-48 kgs gi), Ella Olaso (-52 kgs gi) and Miriam Balisme (-60 kgs no gi).

“We are thrilled to announce that the Philippine grappling team has achieved their best finish ever in the Asian championship held here,” Aguilar said. “It’s been an incredible journey for us since we first started sending our athletes to Russia to compete during the pandemic.”

“From those humble beginnings, we have produced world champions and Asian champions, along with multiple medalists in both championships. And now, after being given the honor to host the games, our country has finally moved to second overall in Asia, behind champion Kazakhstan.”

Other Filipino men’s gi U-20 medalists were Callum Johnston Roberts (silver in men’s grappling gi U-20 silver), Joshua Dy (84 kgs silver), Mohammed Mib (bronze 77 kgs), Denzel Alipio (66 kgs silver), Joaquin Marte (63 kgs silver), Lord Gabriel del Rosario (58 kgs silver), Miguel Gutierrez (58 kgs bronze), men’s grappling gi U15 were Angelo Lucian Salud (73 kgs bronze), Albert Custodio (53 kg silver), Caleb Paul Crisostomo (47 kgs bronze), and Andreas Lucho Aguilar (men’s grappling gi U-17 63 kgs bronze).

Women’s grappling gi U-20 medalists were Miriam Grace Balisme (58 kg silver), gi U-15 medalists Samantha Lubon (57kg silver), Yani Lopez (57kg bronze) and Chloe Emmanuelle Isidro (48 kg silver).

More than 300 grapplers, including 56 Filipinos, all over the Asian continent competed in the overseas tournament sanctioned by the UWW last week.

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