Team USA athlete wins first medal in Sanda at Universiade

Team USA's Enriquez made history by being the first American athlete to medal in Sanda kung fu at Universiade

Demirci Mehmet (left) of Turkey vs. Isiah Ray Enriquez (right) of USA.

Demirci Mehmet (left) of Turkey vs. Isiah Ray Enriquez (right) of USA.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Team USA's Isiah Ray Enriquez made history yesterday by being the first American athlete to win a bronze medal in Sanda (散打)at a Universiade games, the first time the sport has been included in the international sports competition.

Competing in the men's 52 kilogram weight class, Enriquez was a lock for bronze after defeating Demirci Mehmet of Turkey in the quarter-finals on Aug. 27. In his second bout on Aug. 28, the winner of which was guaranteed at least a silver medal, Enriquez fight ferociously against a tough opponent in Jomar Balangui. After a seesaw battle with many spills and thrills, Balangui was given the slight edge in the eyes of the judges.

Early in the second round, Balangui threw Enriquez to the mat for a score and later placed a well-timed front kick to drop him to the mat once more. However, Enriquez mounted a fierce flurry late in the round with two successful throws of Balangui to the mat, one of which landed at the sound of the gong. Despite his comeback, the judges awarded the second round to Balangui again, and thus eliminated Enriquez from silver and gold contention.

On Aug. 29, Enriquez was awarded the bronze medal for his victory in the quarter finals, making history as the first American athlete to medal in Sanda as it is included for the first time as an official sport at a Summer Universiade.

Enriquez (Left) with fellow Team USA member an bronze medalist Emily Fan (right).

Enriquez's bout on Aug. 28:

Enriquez's bout on Aug. 27:

In order from left to right, Jomar Balangui, Peng Yuan, Seongji Byeon, and Isiah Ray Enriquez.

Athlete profile:
Name: Isiah Ray Enriquez​
Age: 18
College: South Plains College, Lubbock, Texas
Major: Physical Therapy
Hometown: Lubbock, Texas
Years of Sanda experience: 6
Martial arts school: United Martial Arts, Lubbock, Texas

For more information about this athlete, an interview with him conducted by Taiwan News can be seen here.