A TAEKWONDO player and coach made the Ilonggo community proud again as she bagged the gold medal in the 2019 US World Open and Para International Championships at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, March 3.
Karina Belicena of Jaro, Iloilo City competed against 3,000 athletes from 80 countries to grab the top honor.
“US Open is one of the most anticipated tournaments, not only in the US, but in the whole world. It’s like a mini world championships, all the athletes there performed great,” she added.
Belicena first joined the US open Taekwondo Championships G2 event on March 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada but she failed to bring home a medal.
“I didn’t get a medal that time, but I am more than happy and determined to train hard for my next event. US Open has never been easy, I would always see it as a big goal for me to keep pushing until I ranked first. After that, I traveled to Oregon and the three days of continuous travel and flights were worth it after I snatched the coveted gold medal,” she said.
The Ilongga taekwondo coach won two medals in the 2017 Pan America Kukkiwon Hanmadang. She also won the bronze medal in Poomsae category after winning against eight players from United States of America (USA) and one each from Bolivia and India.
Aside from being a certified USA taekwondo coach, Belicena is also a National referee member of the World Taekwondo Masters Union, the only organization in the US that is recognized by the Kukkiwon in giving out seminars, exams, and competitions.
Belicena was born and raised in Iloilo but she currently lives abroad. She took interest in taekwondo at a young age and now teaches full time and competes from time to time.
Aside from competing in many international arenas, Belicena also imparts her skills to young Ilonggo aspirants. She’s one of the trainers during the Summer Clinic which teaches kids for free under the Iloilo City’s government program.
She also told The Daily Guardian that she is blessed to be surrounded by people who believed in her and they are the reason why she keeps on moving forward.
“To the kids who look up to me as their teacher, I wanted to show them that there is no limit to the things that you want to achieve. To my fellow Ilonggo athletes, wherever you are right now it doesn’t matter, just keep pushing yourself until you reach your goal. Small progress along the way will turn your dream into reality. Be patient and trust the process,” she said.