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Pencak silat star puts sport’s fame on her shoulders

Mary Francine Padios Pencak Silat

FILE – Filipino athlete Mary Francine Padios bags silver at the Pencak Silat tunggal female competiton of the 30th SEA Games in Subic, Zambales on Tuesday, December 3, 2019. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

MANILA, Philippines—The difficult part of Mary Francine Padios’ goal as an athlete is not the winning of medals.

The 19-year-old Padios has already proven herself in her sport, pencak silat. She is currently the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in her event and was a bronze finisher in the Pencak Silat World Championships 2022 held in Malacca, Malaysia, in August.

But more than winning tournaments and performing for a crowd, Padios also wants pencak silat to shed its obscurity and rise to the level of mainstream sports.

“More than competing and winning medals, I would like to help increase the popularity of our sport,” said Padios after seeing action in the Seni (artistic) women’s singles event at the start of the 8th Women’s Martial Arts Festival on Saturday.

The Indonesian martial arts has several subdisciplines but is generally a fighting style where athletes can use every part of the body to attack any part of the body. The sport uses grappling, striking, throwing and even weaponry and also has its form competitions.

Seni features two weapons—knife and stick—and empty hand where power and speed doing combat movements such as punches and kicks will be measured in an artistic routine.

“Pencak silat is very unique and very different. It’s not the attack-type of sport and focuses more on your ability to defend. You will earn more points through defense,” said Padios during the opening of the six-day festival for women in 11 combat sports.

Each participant in the Seni is given three minutes to perform without going over the time limit and unlike the other form events in a combat sport, pencak silat artists are prohibited from yelling while executing the routine on the mat.

Over 600 women athletes, coaches and officials were at Rizal Memorial Coliseum to attend the opening rites of the first big multisport event hosted by the Philippine Sports Commission since the pandemic. INQ


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