PH taekwondo aces go into Tokyo qualifier minus tuneup event
With the biggest taekwondo meet in Asia shelved indefinitely, Kirstie Elaine Alora and Pauline Lopez will have to stay inside the training bubble until the qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics less than three months from now.
The Asian Taekwondo Championships, which would have served as a tuneup for the Olympic aspirants, was supposed to be held in Beirut, Lebanon, in April but was postponed for June depending, of course, on the COVID-19 situation.
“No events outside the country before May. Our jins will stay in the bubble to prepare for the qualifying event,’’ said Philippine Taekwondo Association secretary general Raul Samson.
World Taekwondo Asia (WTA) announced that the Asian Qualification Tournament (AQT) has been pegged May 21 to 23 in Amman, Jordan. It is the final qualifier that Filipino jins have to hurdle to secure spots in the Tokyo Summer Games.
WTA executive council member Stephen Fernandez said the AQT was originally scheduled May 14 and 15 at the same venue, but organizers decided to move it a week later and give way to Jordan’s official holiday that will fall on the original dates.
Alora, the Philippines’ lone representative in the sport in the 2016 Rio Games, is giving it another shot in the women’s +67 kg division in the Jordan qualifier where the top two finalists advance to Tokyo.
Korea’s Lee Da-bin and China’s Zheng Shuyin have already qualified, leaving Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Osipova and Cansel Deniz of Kazakhstan as the rough obstacles on Alora’s bid.
“This coming qualifying will be a make or break campaign for me,’’ added Alora, the two-time Asian Games bronze medalist.
Lopez is finally hoping to make it to the Olympics this time after failing in 2016.
“It’s a dream to be in the Olympics. When I didn’t get it the last time, that ignited another light in me to aim for the next one,’’ said Lopez.