What would wushu look like in new normal? SEA Games star Agatha Wong shares thoughts

Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2020 08:39 PM

Agatha Wong has become the face of Philippine wushu, a reputation she bolstered after winning two gold medals in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

By its nature, wushu should be a sport that could relaunch under minimum quarantine conditions. At least, in the individual category.

The Chinese martial arts is categorized as either taolu, which is a competition of movement and proper technique among single participants, and sanda, the combat side.

“It would be fairly manageable,” Agatha Wong said, referring to the prospect of wushu returning to action.

“It’s mostly individual. The complication I can see, though, is the sparring events, because you have to kick, you have to take down a person. Pero feeling ko sa mga events na individual involving weapons, mas kayang i-manage.

“(Pero) even if it’s manageable, I still think that right now it’s not a good time to host sporting events.”

Wong has become the face of Philippine wushu, a reputation she bolstered after winning two gold medals in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. 

She said it’s possible that tournaments could be without spectators, too, much like many sports in the new normal. Besides that, physical distancing shouldn’t be a problem.

The floor space in which athletes perform is wide enough that coming into contact with another person wouldn’t be an issue. Judges, though, would have to sit farther apart.

As far as gear goes — Wong uses a short sword in the Taijijian event — the athletes own their equipment. 

Wong said she sees organizers being thorough with the mat, especially if spills occur. 

Hygiene at venues notwithstanding, wushu should be good to go again soon.

The question is why hasn’t it?

Even if wushu appears one of those sports in which participants have a lower chance of being infected, Agatha Wong believes it is better to restart games when a vaccine is really available. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/file

“If you were to do wushu and exclude sanda, that would be unfair to the athletes,” Wong said.

“I fully understand if wushu hasn’t started yet, because health and safety come first.” 

Wong said she has heard about online tournaments in martial arts where form is concerned, but she’s skeptical about that.

“If it were to happen, it’s still different from being face to face with judges because you’ll never know like the Wi-fi connection, for example. If the screen becomes pixelated, they wouldn’t be able to judge a competitor properly,” she said.

“Maybe small tournaments, yes, but at the world championships it’s never gonna happen.”

Even if scenarios of a relaunch are discussed, Wong said it’s better of sports stakeholders to “tread with caution.”

“In these circumstances where there isn’t a definite solution like a vaccine,” she said, “I don’t think it’s possible to host events even if we observe social distancing.”

Like many athletes, Wong and her teammates didn’t immediately realize how long the lockdown would go on. 

When the international federation announced that key world tournaments were scrapped, that was when Wong knew stoppage in play would last longer.

That didn’t mean it was a chance to take a break. 

For Wong, not only did training in quarantine keep her healthy and “sane”, but it has also allowed her be in shape for when the time comes that tournaments are back.

How far down the road that happens she doesn’t know but she’s not letting the uncertainty get in the way of her routine.

“I watch a lot of videos on my sport. I set small goals weekly, for example, because if you accomplish things in those baby steps you won’t mind not being able to compete, na parang wala lang ginagawa ko,” she said.

“I don’t think that way, because if I do and start my training later mawawala kondisyon ko. That’s what scares me the most.”

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2019 SEA Games