Rising to the peaks: Jellicque Matias' inspiring Taekwondo journey

Jellicque Nicquel O. Matias
Jellicque Nicquel O. MatiasPhoto from PTA Region 2

JUST like the journey to the mountain peaks of Isabela, an athlete’s journey is also never easy.

Jellicque Nicquel O. Matias, a 14-year-old Grade 10 student from Odizee School of Achievers in Alicia, Isabela, showcases this mindset to the fullest extent.

Her interest in taekwondo piqued in 2016 as she watched her brother during his training and competitions.

“Siya po kasi talaga ang nagtataekwondo sa amin noon. Nanonood po kasi ako sa mga training and tournaments niya noon hanggang nagustuhan ko na din po sumali sa taekwondo,” Matias said.

Since then, she went to various places to attend training and attended summer classes.

Shena Alipio, CJ Viloria, Kiko Ignacio, and Vicenta Mariano are some of her favorite coaches who, according to her, taught the basics of taekwondo: respecting the seniors, the notion of not giving up easily, and training hard to reach one’s dream.

Matias joined numerous taekwondo competitions, improving herself and her technique in the process.

Some of the contests Matias joined include Regional TKD Championship 2018 - Poomsae, where she won as a bronze medalist; Luzon New face 2019 – Individual Poomsae, where she won as a silver medalist; Regional TKD championship 2019 - Sparring, where she won as a gold medalist; Mayor's Cup National Inter-School 2019 - Sparring, where she won as a silver medalist; National TKD Championship 2019 - Sparring where she won as a silver medalist; a finalist in the Asian Online Open TKD – Individual Poomsae; Palarong Bayan 2019 – Individual and Team Poomsae where she won as a gold medalist; Legislative District 3 Athletic Meet 2019 – Individual and Team Poomsae, where she won as a gold medalist; a silver medalist in the 1st Mayor Sheena Tan Regionals CPJ Taekwondo Championship 2022 – Individual Poomsae; Provincial 2023 – Individual and Team Poomsae, where she won as a gold medalist; Legislative District 3 Athletic Association Meet 2023 – Individual and Team Poomsae Gold Medalist 2nd Master Taekwondo Invitational; Friendship Game 2023 – Individual Poomsae, where she won as a gold medalist; a gold medalist in the Division Athletic Meeting 2023 – Individual and Team Poomsae; Regional CPJ Taekwondo 2023 – Individual Poomsae, where she won as a silver medalist; another silver medal from the Regional New Face of the Year Taekwondo championship 2023 – Individual Poomsae; CaVRAA 2023 – Individual Poomsae Bronze Medalist; Team Gold Medalist; Luzon Taekwondo Championship 2024 - Individual Poomsae; Luzon Championship 2024 – Individual Poomsae; and National New Face of the Year 2024 – Individual Poomsae.

“Ang pinaka mahalaga kong natutunan ay ‘wag kang madaling sumuko sa iyong pangarap dahil failure is a part of success,” said Matias.

Even though she joined many sports events, her feelings of nervousness, pressure, and the lack of focus are unavoidable.

She experienced missing outings and family gatherings due to her being in training or games.

Matias once felt the urge to give up because of the hardships in training and balancing her life as a student, a daughter, and a taekwondo athlete.

At one point, she doubted herself whether or not taekwondo is truly for her because of back-to-back losses in taekwondo competitions.

Matias treated these negative experiences as another opponent in the mat. To combat them, she always reminds herself to just enjoy the game and not to expect much when participating in any competition.

If she does not win in a particular event, she said that God has another plan -- a better opportunity for her.

During her rest days as an athlete, she devotes time for her family. On normal days, she would only train during the weekends.

When there are upcoming Department of Education competitions, to balance her life as a student athlete, she would attend her classes in the morning and train after.

She would work on her school projects and assignments when the training time is over.

This mindset and habit continued as she participated in the CaVRAA Meet 2024 to grab the opportunity in reaching her longtime dream of taking part in the Palarong Pambansa 2024.

In preparation for the CaVRAA Meet 2024, Matias followed a strict routine of jogging/training from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., followed by an 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. training, and afternoon training from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

She would also practice self-discipline.

The heavy training, as well as adjusting her own body clock coupled with homesickness and missing her parents are some of her difficulties before and during the CaVRAA Meet.

When the winners for taekwondo secondary girl’s division were announced, Matias did not believe at first because her fellow members from the Team Poomsae lost. She felt sad for them because they would not be able to participate at the Palarong Pambansa together.

When two of her seniors congratulated her, that was the moment it sank in that she was the winner.

It has been her long-time dream to participate in the Palarong Pambansa. She said she immediately hugged her seniors who congratulated her while crying in tears of joy. Then she went to her mom to hug her as well.

As Matias reached her peak in taking part of the Palarong Pambansa, she now aims for a higher peak that is on the horizon.

When asked if she would continue being an athlete in the future, Matias said yes and that she sees herself doing her best and training hard to achieve her next goal -- taking part of a team that would represent the Philippines or a player of a university. (Stephen Joseph T. Enrile, UP Tacloban intern)


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