At the JJIF Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi, UAE this week, two martial artists from the Philippines reigned supreme.
Last Wednesday, former Ilongga beauty queen Kimberly Anne Custodio proved that she is both the beauty and the brawns, claiming the World Championship for her division, the -45kg. The following day, Meggie Ochoa won her second World Championship for the -48kg division.
With two Jiu-Jitsu World Championship Gold Medals around their necks, these two Filipinas are coming home knowing that they have made their mark on Philippine sports.
Beauty and Brawns
With her strength and force on the mat, it may not be obvious that once upon a time, Kimberly Custodio was a former beauty queen. In fact, she was named “Miss Iloilo Dinagyang 2004”.
Now, an athlete for Carpe Diem Philippines and MDS Jiu-Jitsu Iloilo, she is fighting on the world stage. In 2016, she won the silver medal in the JJIF Jiu-Jitsu World Championship in Long Beach, California. This year, she showed how much she has grown since then.
She opened her 2022 World Championship tiff with two dominant wins. In both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches, Custodio took both her opponents down, winning both with a score of 14-0.
In the finals, faced with Kacie Pechrada Tan, Custodio did not back down. Although Tan proved to be a tough opponent on the mat, the Filipina prevailed and won the world title with a score of 6-4.
Custodio could not hold in her emotions after securing the championship win. With tears in her eyes, she ran to her teammates to celebrate.
Back in 2018, Meggie Ochoa made history as she became the Philippines’ first-ever world champion for Jiu-Jitsu. And not only that, but she also became the first Asian to win gold in the Worlds as well. That same year, she also won gold in the Jiujitsu World Tour in London and a bronze medal in the Asian Games.
This year, she came back with a clear mission to fight for more gold medals to hang up on her bemedalled wall. Last May, she brought home the gold yet again in the recent Southeast Asian Games. And now, she has, yet again, been crowned World Champion.
Like Custodio, Ochoa entered the competition in a dominant fashion. Her run was highlighted by her semifinal match against Palestine’s Abdulkareen Balquees, where she won no contest, 22-0. Against her opponent in the final, Canada’s Vicky Hoang Ni Ni, she won 2-0.
With her win, the Philippine delegation finishes fourth overall behind the UAE, Canada, and Germany in the adult jiu-jitsu category.
Both Custodio and Ochoa are examples of how women are changing the landscape of Philippine sports. Like other athletes such as Hidilyn Diaz, Margielyn Didal, and even the Filipinas, these martial artists show that even in largely male-dominant sports, women can not only thrive, but win.
Images from Jiu-Jitsu International Federation.