Olympics: Alora bows to Mexican, waits for repechage bouts
RIO DE JANEIRO–Kirstie Elaine Alora failed to solve the riddle of Maria Espinoza’s in-and-out lunges and bowed to the multititled Mexican, 4-1, in their first-round match Saturday morning in taekwondo’s over-67 kilogram division at Carioca Arena in the Rio Olympics here.
Espinoza picked up the first point on a counter kick 82 seconds into the match, yielded a point after getting knocked down by a well-timed frontal kick by Alora halfway through the second round, but completely took over from there.
The 26-year-old, 175-pound Alora tried to claw back by getting more mobile on the attack in the second and third rounds but Espinoza scored the next three points off lunges that threw the Filipino off her rhythm.
But all is not lost for Alora despite the defeat, thanks to taekwondo’s repechage. The first-round loser gets a chance to fight for the bronze medal provided the opponent who beat her goes all the way to the finals.
“I could not fire off shots because of (Espinoza’s) footwork,” said Alora as she and coach Roberto Cruz headed for the dugout to plan a possible fight in the repechage, set in the afternoon. “I could not anticipate what she’d do next because she kept moving away after each attack.”
Espinoza, the former world and Olympic champion, is heavily tipped to advance to the gold-medal fight from the upper half of the 16-fighter draw.
The 27-year-old army private, a national heroine in Mexico, advanced to the quarterfinals against Morroco’s Wiam Dislam, needing a win to at least seal a spot in the bronze-medal round. Another win would clinch her a finals berth.
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