James de los Santos was infamously snubbed from the Karate National Team in 2019. One year later, he has bounced back stronger than ever, to the top of the world rankings.
While the country proudly hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), James sat at home. This was a major letdown for the 2017 SEA Games bronze medalist and six-time Philippine National Games champ.
But he took it as an opportunity to get better, and he has welcomed the New Normal of online tournaments:
“It’s unfortunate what happened last year but it’s already in the past…these virtual tournaments are the new opportunity,” James told Inquirer in a September interview.
Dominant return, no rest for the best
Since online events started in March, James de los Santos has soared to the top of world rankings. Last Tuesday, the 30-year-old left competition in the dust at the e-Champions Trophy World Series. He now has a total of 19 gold medals.
Tournaments continue on through November and December, and James plans to join as many as he can.
“There are 12 tournaments for this month and also for the Christmas season and I’m planning to join all that, which means I will not be having a holiday break,” he told the Philippine Star.
Earning the nickname
For the World Series, James was in a race against time, as Typhoon Rolly was descending upon the country. He told the story on his Instagram account:
“On the day of the finals, my student from MKKPI, Fatima Hamsain, and I arrived in the tournament venue around 11:20am. Then the mall announced that they will be closing at 12nn for everyone’s safety. So we basically had around 30 mins to finish everything. Despite the time pressure, we succeeded. But also because of the possibility of a brownout due to the typhoon, we rushed back home to upload our videos. And fortunately again, we succeeded.”
How about that? Could this be a suitable nickname for the rising star? “Typhoon” James de los Santos?