WITH the departure of men’s basketball star Kiefer Ravena and women’s volleyball sensation Alyssa Valdez, there’s one who is ready to create a big name for Ateneo in the UAAP.
She’s Pauline Lopez, the Asian Championships gold medalist who led the Ateneo women’s taekwondo team to third place in Season 79.
“It’s very humbling. Lahat kami, as in, we worked hard. It all starts in training,” said Lopez.
“Most definitely, this is a good start. We’re at the right place. There’s nowhere else to go but up,” she added.
In the sport dominated by powerhouses University of Santo Tomas and La Salle in the past two decades, Ateneo pulled a recruitment coup when it got the 20-year old Lopez to boost its roster.
“Iba talaga yung pressure dito. Kasi people are expecting from me, coming from a national team background,” said Lopez.
Living up to her lofty billing, Lopez, fighting in the lightweight division, took the Rookie of the Year honors after winning five of his six bouts for the Lady Eagles.
Lopez’s lone defeat came from season MVP Shiryl Badol of eventual champion National University. She found herself in a tiebreaker after the second round ended at 1-1.
Badol eventually defeated Lopez in the decider, 3-2.
“There’s always room for improvement and it’s a learning experience,” said Lopez, who also competed in the Asian Olympic qualification tournament last April.
With Ateneo now becoming one of the elite taekwondo teams, Lopez is simply hoping that the Lady Eagles will remain one of the contenders and eventually nail their first championship in the UAAP.