Well-prepared national jins raring to go
For nearly four months inside a bubble, Philippine taekwondo bets seeking berths in the Tokyo Olympics have waited for this.
Kirstie Elaine Alora, Pauline Lopez, Arven Alcantara and Kurt Bryan Barbosa arrived recently in Ammam, Jordan, for the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament for which they have painstakingly prepared for and kept a good record of PH taekwondo in the Games going.
“At this stage, all four of them are physically, emotionally and mentally ready,’’ said national coach Carlos Padilla, who was with the four throughout bubble training at Inspire Academy in Calamba. “Right now, they are just waiting for their turns to go out there on the mat and fight.’’
Alcantara will open the country’s bid on Friday in the men’s -68 kilogram, a one-day survival affair where the Southeast Asian Games silver medalist needs to at least make the finals to punch a ticket to Tokyo.
The 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian Alora comes out next to see action in the women’s +73kg on Saturday as well as Lopez, the 2016 Asian champion in the women’s -57kg category, and Barbosa in the men’s -58kg.
“They are very hungry to qualify for the Olympics and get an Olympic medal. There were limitations due to the pandemic, but the team is blessed with a good training camp,” said national coach Dindo Simpao.
Save for a two-week enhanced community quarantine where face-to-face contact was barred due to rising cases of COVID-19 last month, the four jins got the type of preparation they needed.
Since it became a medal sport in 2000 in Sydney, Filipino jins were present in every edition of the global Summer Games, except in London 2012.“I can feel that all the sacrifices that our players have made will bear fruit. They are 101 percent focused on their objective,’’ said Padilla.
The Philippines has so far qualified eight athletes headlined by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo. INQ