Agatha Wong on Wushu, her Filipino heritage, and this year’s SEA Games

Agatha Wong on Wushu, her Filipino heritage, and this year’s SEA Games

“I think, as a nation, we really just have to focus on what’s important. And what’s important is that we support our athletes.”

SEA Games 2019 two-time gold medalist Agatha Wong knows the value of hard work. In the 2017 SEA Games, when most Filipinos never even heard of wushu, she made news when she won a silver medal. Last week, she won two gold medals, besting other athletes in both taolu taijian and taolu taijiquan categories. While most of us saw a flawless performance of jumps and turns, Agatha was actually enduring multiple injuries before performing. Talk about discipline and composure. 

In an online interview, we got to talk to Agatha about Wushu, the local sports community, her thoughts on the SEA Games controversies, and her advice to young athletes. 

 

(Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for clarity.)

 

Young STAR: How did you get into wushu?

Agatha Wong: I started getting into wushu when I was about 12 years old. My parents were making me do ballet, swimming, ice skating, karate, and piano lessons. When I turned 13, they asked me to choose one sport because they said that if I would balance all of those sports, I won’t be able to make it. So I chose wushu.

 

Wushu is one of the lesser known sports in the country. How does it feel to play a sport that not a lot of people know about?

It’s a challenge. Every time people ask me what sport I do, they always make fun of the name. And that really hurts me. Wushu is also a sport. It’s not just an art form. It’s really hard to compete in wushu. And it’s really hard to win in wushu. So as an athlete, it’s also my responsibility to promote my sport, especially now na nagkakaroon na ng attention yung sport ko.

 

There were a lot of people online who criticized you for not being Filipino enough. What can you say about that?
I’ve always lived in the Philippines. Sobrang Pilipinong Pilipino talaga ako. The only difference is that I have a Chinese surname. It was very hurtful for people to say that I only won because I’m Chinese, which is not the case at all. Walang basis yung pangalan when it comes to competition. When it comes to sports, it’s only about how professional you are, how good you are, how strong you are, and how fearless you are.

For you, what does it mean to be a Filipino?
Being Filipino for me means fighting for my country despite other Filipinos bashing me. Despite other Filipinos not being happy for my success. I’m proud to call myself Filipino.

What can you say about the lack of funding and support in sports in our country?
The sports funding from our government has actually already improved over the years. I’m really grateful kasi ngayon they’re really hands on with us. I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to represent our country.

 

What can you say about the controversies that surround this year’s SEA Games?
There are a lot of controversies in this year’s SEA Games. I think, as a nation, we really just have to focus on what’s important. And what’s important is that we support our athletes — that we support the people that actually carry the country’s flag. Sometimes, it’s more important to focus on what this moment is, rather than what’s happened in the past. 

 

What do you want to say to young Filipino athletes who feel discouraged to go into sports?
My advice is wag nila pangunahan before trying. When I was a kid, I didn’t like wushu at all, but after a few years of training, I fell in love with the sport. And now I’m here. I’m a national team athlete representing the country. Just go for it. We live everyday, but we only have one life. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life regretting na sana pala I tried this. Just go with your gut. 

 

 

Follow Agatha on instagram @agathawongy.

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