Fighting heart Alora’s best weapon
RIO DE JANEIRO—More than anything else, taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora would have to contend with pressure in the Olympic Games here.
Coach Roberto “Kitoy” Cruz said the 26-year-old Alora has what it takes to win a medal at any stage. But nothing is easy when you’re up against the world’s best.
“The pressure is there,” said Cruz. “But as long as she gives her best and stays focused, then she has a chance.”
Cruz said Alora, a two-time bronze medalist in the Asian Games, normally gives away an inch or two in height against her rivals but makes up for the disadvantage with a big heart.
“Likas na matapang (She’s tough),” said Cruz.
Alora will try to deliver a medal for the Philippines in the women’s +67 kg weight class which gets going Aug. 20.
Assisting her in her Olympic journey, which begins with an early clash with 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Maria Espinoza of Mexico, is Cruz, arguably the finest taekwondo jin the Philippines has ever produced.
Cruz, now 43, represented the Philippines in various international competitions in the 1990s.
As a finweight, Cruz won gold medals from the Southeast Games six straight times—from 1991 to 2001—and had three silver and two bronze medals in the World Championships.
In the Asian Championships, Cruz took home bronze, silver and gold during a five-year stretch starting in 1994. He also has two World Cup bronze medals.
The early clash with Espinoza, who also took a bronze in the 2012 London Olympics, would give Alora the early chance to prove her worth.
“Laban lang (Just fight through it),” said Cruz.
Alora was back in the swing of things Monday after taking a rest Sunday due to slight fever.
“I’m OK now. I just have to train today,” she said.
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