KNOKKE- It’s official. Pinoy-Belgian Ian Lodens will be among 60 athletes who will represent Team Belgium in the upcoming World Games in Wroclaw, Poland this month.
Lodens, 18, will compete in jiu-jitsu under the Duo Mixed Category on July 28 and 29.
The World Games is known as the Olympics for sports excluded from the quadrennial global sporting event, including sport climbing, archery, roller sports, waterski, tug of war and jiu-jitsu.
Just like the Olympics, World Games is organized every four years, the last hosted by Cali, Colombia in 2013.
In Belgium, only athletes who have competed for more than four years in international competitions are qualified to take part in the World Games.
Lodens, who only started competing internationally in 2015, is 2 years short of the required years, but he still made the cut.
In 2015, Lodens won gold with another Belgian in the Duo Mixed category in the world championship. In 2016 and 2017, he and his brother Ryan took home gold in the Duo Men’s category.
Winning for 3 consecutive years earned Lodens a spot in the World Games.
Lodens admitted being excited as he considers the World Games his most important competition to date.
“For me, the World Games is the best competition of a lifetime. It’s the biggest and a once in a lifetime opportunity for an athlete like me,” he said.
He said he trains 6 times a week in preparation for the competition.
“I have to drive one and a half hours to go to training, which is twice a week. The rest of the days, I do some exercises at home,” said Lodens who hopes to bring home medals for his country.
While optimistic, he still asks for the support and prayers of his countrymen.
“I really hope that Filipinos and Belgians will pray for me, for us. If they could watch our games on the television, that would be nice,” he said.
Belgium did not win any medals for jiu-jitsu in the World Games in 2013, so the team has nothing but high hopes for Lodens.
ON BEING POPULAR
Lodens is a popular figure in the Dutch region of Belgium. He has been all over the news, be it on print or television. But he said this does not get into his head.
“As an athlete, I have been through a lot of struggles. There were so many obstacles. I have been bullied as well. But all these made me more determined in achieving my goal, and that is to make my country proud,” he said.
Aware that martial arts is not an easy discipline, he hopes to see more Pinoys competing in the international competition.
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