Taekwondo puts first Asiad gold bid on Olympian Alora’s shoulders
Kirstie Elaine Alora’s consecutive victories in a pair of highly competitive international meets seemed to augur well for Team Philippines in the forthcoming 19th Asian Games (Asiad).
The Philippine taekwondo team has yet to show a gold medal in the Asiad and could finally pull off a breakthrough with Alora and poomsae specialist Jocel Lyn Ninobla as some of its brightest hopes.
Alora, a 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympian, led the Filipino jins in a prosperous campaign of four gold, five silver and three bronze medals in the just-concluded 2023 Chuncheon Korea Open International that featured some of their fiercest rivals in the continent.
“We will continue to prepare well for the Asian Games. Our competition in Korea was a good gauge of the team’s performance,’’ said Philippine Taekwondo Association secretary general Rocky Samson.
Apart from Alora’s triumph in the women’s +73 kilograms kyorugi, Baby Jessica Canabal added a silver in the women’s -53 kg as well as junior jins Kurt Mykel Curata (men’s -51 kg), Rodito Sinugbojan Jr. (men’s -48 kg) and Tachiana Mangin (women’s -49 kg). Caitlin Julia Carlos got a bronze in the women’s junior -44 kg.
In poomsae, Stella Nicole Yape helped the freestyle mixed team (over 17) seize the gold along with Juvenile Faye Crisostomo, Justine Kobe Macario, Zyka Angelica Santiago and Patrick King Perez.
Yape later on joined forces with Darius Venerable in another triumphant showing in the freestyle pair (over 17).
Through their efforts, the Philippines earned the distinction as the best team in the freestyle category over 17 years old.
Ian Matthew Corton also supplied a gold for good measure in the individual male poomsae under-30 while Antonette Medallada claimed the silver medal in the junior individual female international and June Ninobla a bronze in the individual male senior.
Since taekwondo entered the Asian Games program in 1986, the Filipino jins’ best finish was a silver on several occasions: Toni Rivero (women’s -67 kg) and Tshomlee Go (men’s -58 kg) in 2006 in Qatar and in 2002 ins South Korea as well as Donald Geisler (men’s -64 kg) in 1998 in Indonesia and Robert Vargas (men’s -64 kg) in 1994 in Hiroshima.