Alora’s preparation: Scrimmaging with male jins
RIO DE JANEIRO—How do you prepare against fighters taller and tougher than you are?
Kirstie Elaine Alora scrimmages with men.
She will find it handy. The country’s lone taekwondo fighter in this Olympics belongs to a weight division—plus 67 kilograms—dominated by vertically gifted fighters who move around like boxing lightweights.
And Alora knows she has more reason to get smarter than her first opponent when the competition in the Korean martial art gets going on the eve of the Games’ closing ceremonies on Aug. 20.
Waiting for her in the first round is Mexico’s Maria Espinoza, the 2008 Beijing Olympics champion and London 2012 bronze medalist.
“We have a chance because she’s only slightly taller than me,” said the 5-foot-7 Alora in Filipino “But I’m used to taking on taller foes. Back home I practice with taller men.”
The 25-year-old fighter from Biñan, Laguna, said she and her coach, the veteran internationalist Roberto Cruz, are making every effort to find out how to hit Espinoza, who reigned in the division before the introduction of the sport’s electronic vest scoring.
Alora exudes the remarkable nonchalance of the typecast taekwondo-jin as fight day nears, neither showing anxiety nor smugness.
“I’m okay,” she told the Inquirer. “It’s bad to be overexcited; bad too if you’re not looking forward to it. You have to strike a balance between the two.”