How Pinoy taekwondo champs got scholarships in Spain

By Daniel Infante Tuaño

BARCELONA – Two Filipino teens were given full scholarships to the prestigious center that trains Spain’s national athletes.

They were selected after the two received medals in local and national taekwondo championships in Spain.

Spain’s Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR) is giving scholarship packages, including free high school education, food allowance
and top-notch taekwondo training to 14-year-old Jason Clark Saplaan Hidalgo and 15-year-old Cristian Elmer Benan.

“Masaya ako dahil nabigyan ako ng scholarship at magandang oportunidad at training ito,” said Saplaan.

Jason Clark Saplaan Hidalgo

Jason Clark Saplaan Hidalgo

“Masaya naman kasi nandito na lahat eh, may mga doktor kung may mangyari ba, may pagkain andaming pagkain, training masaya naman magtraining,” said Benan.

Cristian Elmer Benan

Cristian Elmer Benan

The Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR) or High-Performance Center is a prestigious sports center as it trains young Spanish athletes from an early age in swimming, water polo, handball, gymnastics, taekwondo, tennis and football.

The campus in Sant Cugat, Barcelona, where the teens undergo training, is one of the three primary CAR centers in Spain that prepares athletes, including Olympians and world champions, for national and international competitions.

The two Pinoy teens are being trained by a world champion, Javier Agudo.

Their Filipino trainer Elmar Dimayuga, who owns Barcelona-based Sant Pau Jade Taekwondo D’Warriors, could not contain his happiness and pride for what his students have achieved.

“Nakakatuwa, nakakaproud na sila, sa pagsisikap nila at sa pagsisikap ko rin bilang trainer ay kumbaga nakukuha na natin yung fruits ng pagsisikap,” he said.

Dimayuga’s son 12-year-old Jade Mariele, who once represented Spain in an international taekwondo competition in Bucharest, and 13-year-old Christian Vincent Manalo Mañibo were also admitted to the center. However, they will be only given free training until they reach the required age.

Jade Mariele Dimayuga

Jade Mariele Dimayuga

Christian Vincent Mañibo

Christian Vincent Mañibo

There are requirements to maintain the scholarships, such as no failing grades and continuous wins in competitions. Saplaan and Benan have to attend regular schooling provided by the center and after finishing their homework, they have to attend the taekwondo training and win tournaments.

“The objective is to increase the number of Catalans in the national team…to be champions in Spain or reach the podium, we (also) try to compete in two international open so they can have experience in competing in the international level,” said Argudo in Spanish.Centre alto rendimiento

Just recently, Saplaan won gold at the Campeonato de Catalunya Junior category. Benan bagged gold in the same competition, silver medal atCampeonato de España, and silver at Campeonato de Catalunya Senior category.

Dimayuga, who used to compete and also won medals in the Philippines, stressed the importance of support of family in realizing their children’s potentials.

He also praised the opportunities and support being offered by Catalan and Spanish government to athletes.

Watch the related TV report in Filipino aired on Balitang Global, The Filipino Channel, ABS-CBN:

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