Continuing the legacy-A A +A
Friday, February 17, 2012
THE Judo scene in Davao City has rich history since its birth in the 1960's at the CYO Gym, now the Holy Cross of Davao College Gym. Among the most prominent figures involved in this sports discipline in the city during the 60's were the Tacontian brothers composed of Antonio, Romeo and Bimbo.
The siblings were repeatedly qualified to represent the city in various national and international competition events and they didn’t' fail to bring honor to the city as they dominated virtually most of the competitions they participated in. As they continued to reap awards and enjoyed the support of the government, judo then has become their life.
Over the years, the Tacontian brothers accumulated skills and experience from countless judo competitions. But with the coming up of age, their competitiveness depreciated to a point that they were experiencing constant setbacks in major competitions late in their judo career. So they then decided to establish their own judo clubs to give birth to a legacy that has been lived on until the present.
It was then a slow transition to a new generation of Davao City judokas and arguably the person who has spearheaded the new generation is Paolo Tacontian.
Paolo, born on October 13, 1976, was introduced to the art of judo when he was seven with his father Antonio and his uncle Romeo as mentors. Paolo proved to be a prodigy in the sport as he made a significant impact in the locality after winning in competitions in the city in his first few years of practice.
He then captured his first major title when he was 11 years old in the 33rd National Judo Championship in Manila.
"I was really an underdog during that competition. I was not officially included in the Davao City delegations. My father just brought me there to witness the national level competition. During the day of the competitions, we found out that there was one category that I could participate in. So then they allowed me to play. Surprisingly, among all the delegates, I was the only one who brought the gold," Tacontian said.
From there, he was recognized by the City Government and it became the dawn of his meteoric rise in the Davao City judo scene.
He then continued to train with his father and uncle. It was then in the 90's that Paolo became the premiere judo athlete of Davao City. He became a three-time Philippine National Games judo champion in 1994, 1996 and 1997. He also was a four-time recipient of the Athlete of the Year in the So Kim Cheng Sports Foundation Awards.
Moreover, he became a consistent top placer in international events. He was able to bring home a bronze medal in the 1995 South East Asian (SEA) Games in Thailand and followed it up with another bronze medal in the 1997 SEA Games in Indonesia. He was also included in the top five in the 1997 Pacific Rim Judo Championship in Macau.
Although he was not able to bring home the gold in those events, Paolo said being able to make it to those events is an achievement since the road en-route to those major events was not easy and it would take an outstanding athlete to qualify.
In 1999, Paolo got married to Janet Torres Sy.
"Judo was actually the reason how I met Janet. When I won the tournament at the University of Sto. Tomas, Janet was the one who awarded the gold medal. From there, we dated and eventually got married," Paolo said.
But perhaps one of the sweetest victories for Paolo was his gold medal performance in the Arafura Games 2001 in Australia.
"For me that was my best victory since my opponents were far larger and stronger than me. But despite of their size and strength advantage, I still emerged as the champion. Up to now I am still amazed by how I managed to win the gold in that tournament," said Tacontian.
Paolo then became a 4th Dan Black Belt in Judo in 2000. He then combined Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in his practices and proved to be effective with the art as well when he became the first Dabawenyo BJJ gold medalist after winning the Pan Asian BJJ Tournament 2008 in Manila.
He also captured a silver medal in the Philippine International BJJ Open 2008 in Manila and added a bronze medal during the Philippine International BJJ Open 2011.
He has then passed on his passion for the martial art as he currently trains young judokas at the Holiday Gym and Spa. Among his top students are his children Sydney and Chino who also made a huge impact in the judo scene after winning countless gold medals in various local, regional, and national judo tournaments including the 2011 Batang Pinoy Games Mindanao Leg and the 2011 Batang Pinoy National Games in Naga City.
Paolo said: "I am very happy that the rich judo legacy that the Tacontian family continues to live on. I could say that I have had an exceptional judo career during my prime and this time, it is Sydney and Chino's turn to continue the Tacontian legacy."
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 18, 2012.