Being a world champion does not come easy and for 22-year-old Muay Thai world champion Islay Erika Bomogao, balancing her dedication for the sports and finishing her education is the key.
Speaking to mostly government employees and fellow athletes and coaches during the awarding ceremony of international athletes by Benguet province, Bomogao narrated her own experiences that led to her success as the first Filipino female International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) world champion.
For three months prior to the competition, she would wake up at 5 a.m. to attend her training from 6 to 7 a.m. then would rush back to her dorm and get ready for her classes at the University of Baguio from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
At the time, she was having her internship for her degree in Bachelor of Physical Education. She had to spend her free time doing her requirements like lesson plans then go back to train at Teachers’ Camp from 6 to 8 p.m.
She said she had to leave home to stay near Teachers’ Camp where she trains.
A month before the competition, the Muaythai Association of the Philippines instructed them to go to Bangkok, Thailand for the athletes’ foreign training.
She requested to remain in Baguio City for her training because of her internship and was thankful to her coaches Edzel Ngina and Zaidi Laruan for adjusting their time to fit her schedule in school.
She said the challenges they have encountered especially when competing in a foreign land is the adjustment to the climate, the food, as well as injuries du-ring the game.
The winning attitude is evident upon watching video clips of her performance during the IFMA Senior World Championships where she displayed grace and fierceness during the artistic category leading her to win silver in the senior female wai kru (boxing dance).
Bomogao said her Igorot frame, at five feet, was not a hindrance in winning against her taller and bigger opponents from Russia and Sweden.
She was intimidated at first and started to question herself, but then reminded her of who she is, which led her to rule the senior female elite 45-kilogram category – giving the Philippines its first Filipino female gold medalist in the world championship stage.
“We Igorots are innate warriors. So despite the challenges, what fuels us to even work harder is our pride in representing our beloved province and our country,” she said.
She displayed consistency not only in Muay Thai career but also in her education, graduating with ho-nors from pre-school to college.
In June 10, her sacrifices were rewarded when she graduated cum laude in college, at the same time an athletic awardee of the University of Baguio.
“Sana win or lose you are there to support us athletes and coaches. Once again, from all of us athletes and coaches who are present here today, never get tired of supporting us and we will never tire of thanking all of you,” she said on behalf of her fellow world-class athletes from the province. – Ofelia C. Empian