Alora gives Olympics another shot before calling career
The chance to earn another trip to the Olympics appears to be looking up for taekwondo ace Kirstie Elaine Alora.
Besides keeping herself in great shape with a training partner during the prolonged lockdown last year, Alora’s chief rivals—Korea’s Lee Da-bin and China’s Zheng Shuyin—have already booked their tickets to the Tokyo Olympics, leaving her with just two formidable blocks to hurdle in Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Osipova and Cansel Deniz of Kazakhstan, as she seeks a second consecutive Olympics stint.
“I have a good chance in the qualifying. I lost to them (Osipova and Deniz) in our previous meetings, but they were close matches,’’ said Alora, who found a sparring partner during the strict quarantine period last year in fellow Olympic aspirant Arven Alcantara who happens to be staying in the same building where she lives.
With World Taekwondo pushing for the final Asian Olympic Qualifiers third week of March in Amman, Jordan, Alora is in a favorable position to secure one of two available continental spots for the privilege to join Team Philippines in Tokyo for the global Summer Games on July 23-Aug. 8.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has handpicked taekwondo, boxing and karate to enter the training bubble at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna province, starting on Jan. 9.
“We are just waiting for the advice of the PSC on when the players can go to Inspire,’’ Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) secretary general Rocky Samson said.
Aside from Alora and Alcantara, PTA has identified Asian champion Pauline Lopez, Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Kurt Barbosa and Samuel Morrison as the fighters who have strong chances of making it to Tokyo.
“We’ve been trying our very best for us to be ready in time for the qualifiers. I became more fit [during the quarantine period] because I was able to watch my diet and focus more on what I want to achieve,’’ the 31-year-old Alora said.
The three-time SEA Games champion felt there was still an unfinished business when she decided to have another crack at the Olympics.
“I could have retired had I won the gold [medal] in the SEA Games. But when I got a silver, I thought that there should be another chance,’’ said Alora, who lost the women’s +73 kilograms gold to perennial rival Sorn Seavmey of Cambodia. “The coming qualifying will be a make or break campaign for me.’’ INQ