By Mark Angelo Mañez

PHOTO: James De Los Santos FB/CNN PH

Filipino karateka and e-Kata world no. 1 James de los Santos on Friday won his fifth gold medal for the year in close fashion.

De Los Santos scored a hairline victory over Alfredo Bustamante of the United States, 24.9-24.6, to emerge as the champion of the Budva Winner-Aria Cup #1 eTournament.

The win is the Filipino karateka's 41st gold medal since joining virtual kata tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Los Santos' protégées at the Maharlika Karatedo Kai of the Philippines International also took home medals in the virtual kata meet. Fatima Hamsain snagged the gold in the Under-16 women's eKata division, while Christina Colonia settled for a silver in the Under-18 bracket.

Last Monday, De Los Santos collected two golds after defeating rival Matias Moreno-Domont of Switzerland in the finals of the first leg of Katana Intercontinental League and E-Karate World Series #1 tournament.

De Los Santos topped the 1st Inner Strength Martial Arts International eTournament on February 10 where he defeated Nejc Sternisa of Slovenia in the finals, 25.4-24.6.

On January 30, the 30-year-old karateka ruled the first leg of the prestigious 2021 SportData eTournament World Series. De Los Santos faced familiar foe Silvio Cerone-Biagoni of South Africa in the finals where he recorded a 25.3-24.5 victory.

De Los Santos still leads the eKata world rankings with a total of 19,470 points. Moreno-Domont is at far second with 10,020 points, and Cerone-Biogioni followed with 9,090 points.