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Clemente flies high for Ateneo Judo

Clemente flies high for Ateneo Judo

The UAAP Judo Tournament was a two day event held in the St. Benilde Gym in La Salle Green Hills. Because it only spanned two days, coaches and players weren’t left with enough breathing room to take in what happened. Take Ateneo’s Nico Clemente, who bagged the Season 78 Rookie of the Year award and -66kg gold medal. “Honestly, I still can’t believe it. Way too much. Two days lang. Like so much happened.”

Clemente started Judo in the only school he competed for, Ateneo. He not only developed his schools in Ateneo but also won titles for his Alma Mater. “I started there. All the way. When I was in high school, we won back to back in third year and fourth year. Fourth year I was gold medalist and MVP in UAAP.”

Even if he won accolades this Season 78, Clemente was soft-spoken about what he went through. “Really tough. That’s pretty much it.”

The UAAP Juniors and Seniors divisions of Judo are very different. Clemente explained that training was more intense now that he is in the Seniors compared to when he was in the Juniors. He added that a minor mistake could cost him in Seniors division play. However, his coaches played a big role in the transition. “First I was really uncertain because I had no idea who I was going up against. I just trusted my coaches. They said they believed in me so I thought that if they believe in me, I should believe in myself.”

Clemente said that his coaches gave him very simple instructions. “To play my game and don’t change anything from what I’ve been doing. Don’t change anything from training. Just continue it.”

Despite his Season 78 honors, Clemente wasn’t one to rest on his laurels. “I guess I’d like to add more to my game. In general, add more moves, both in stand up and ground.”

Season 79 might be a long way to go but Clemente and the rest of the Ateneo Blue Eagles hope to defend their title. “That’s what we’ll hope will happen. We’re gunning for back to back. Feels really great.”