|James De Los Santos waves the Philippine flag so proudly as he finishes the year on top of the eKata rankings. From his Facebook account|
MANILA--Count Filipino karateka James De Los Santos among those who are ending 2020 with much gratitude.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting much of sports on hold, De Los Santos said that this year has been a tremendous one for him with all the accolades he got.
"2020, you were a great year to me. It really has been a blast," De Los Santos said on Thursday, the final day of the year, when announcing that he is the number one eKata player in the year-end rankings.
De Los Santos amassed 17,645 points, ahead by a huge 8,675-point margin over world number two Matias Domont of Switzerland, who has 8,970.
Portugal's Eduardo Garcia, who was at the top before De Los Santos' surge, fell to number three with 8,890, although he managed to stay in the year-end podium despite South Africa's Silvio Cerone-Biagioni (fourth with 7,965), United States' Alfredo Bustamante (fifth with 6,865), and Slovenia's Nejc Sternisa (sixth with 5,060) being more active recently.
Out of 52 eKata events that took place this year, De Los Santos made the podium in 42 of those, winning 36 golds, three silvers, and two bronze medals.
He also captured the overall championships in six eKarate leagues, the Venice Cup, eChampions Trophy World Series, Athlete's eTournament, Katana Intercontinental League, Golden League eTournament, and eKarate Games.
"All this done in a span of 9 months, competing almost everyday in every week," De Los Santos further said.
Capping the year, he was awarded the Male Fighter of the Year by The Hit List podcast, an uncommon feat for a martial artist playing in a performance-based discipline like kata.
De Los Santos beat combat sports practitioners John Riel Casimero (boxing) and Rolando Dy and Joshua Pacio (mixed martial arts) for the award in a close voting race.
"I'm all ready to exit and enter into 2021," he further said.
He then hopes "for the world to return to normal soon," which seems plausible now with the COVID-19 vaccines being made available for emergency use right now.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno