Taekwondo bets to work double time for Olympic qualifiers

Published January 9, 2021, 1:07 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Pauline Lopez 081219_SEAG-TAEKWONDO-PAULINE-LOPEZ_08_riodeluvio-copy-Copy
In this file photo, Filipina jin Pauline Lopez banners the Philippine flag after defeating Cambodia’s Aliza Chhoueng to bag the gold medal in women’s taekwondo featherweight finals at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last December. (MB File Photo)

National taekwondo jins and coaches are expected to work double time to boost their training preparations in time for the Asian Qualification tournament for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Philippine Taekwondo Association secretary general Rocky Samson told Manila Bulletin they are eyeing eight athletes to send in the training bubble the Philippine Sports Commission has organized at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna this month.

Although the list is not yet final, among the athletes expected to enter the isolated training are 2016 Rio Olympian Kirstie Elaine Alora, Pauline Lopez, Arven Alcantra and Kurt Bryan Barbosa.

The athletes only have less than three months to prepare for the Asian Olympic qualifying tentatively set March 26 to 27 in Amman, Jordan where two Olympic berths per weight division are at stake.

Alora, 31, is a two-time Asian Games bronze medalist and a multiple Southeast Asian Games champion. The 24-year-old Lopez, likewise, boasts of a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. Barbosa and Alcantara are gold and silver medalists at the 2019 SEAG that the country hosted.

The PSC has already set aside P15 million for the training bubble of three combat sports taekwondo, boxing and karatedo to gear up their Olympic qualification trainings.

Except in the 2012 London Games, the country has had taekwondo qualifiers to the Olympics since 2000.