TOKYO — Team Philippines is down to 18 athletes standing in the XXXII Olympiad after taekwondo jin Kurt Bryan Barbosa bowed out of contention following a crushing loss in his 58kg opening match Saturday, and the subsequent upset defeat of his South Korean tormentor, the world No. 1, to a Tunisian opponent later in the day.
The combined results ended Barbosa’s hopes of staying in contention for a bronze medal via repechage, a stepladder between fighters who lost against the two finalists and gives elimination round losers a shot at a podium finish.
Barbosa had absorbed a 26-6 defeat to South Korean top seed Jang Jun, with their match suspended on account of the 20-point gap rule, which states that such a deficit is deemed insurmountable to overcome late in the contest.
Still, the early setback notwithstanding, the Bangued, Abra native, who qualified for the Tokyo Games after winning shocking hometown bet Zaid Alhalawani in the 2021 Asian Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan 50-49 after coming back from 49-44 in the last 12 seconds of the 48kg semifinals, could stay in the hunt provided Jang continued winning his matches all the way to the final.
But in a stunning development that rocked Olympic taekwondo, a Tunisian jin named Mohammed Khalil Jendoubi ousted Jang from gold medal play 25-19, effectively snuffing out Barbosa’s flickering chance.
The 22-year-old refused to wallow in his fate following Jang’s defeat.
“God’s plan,” wrote Barbosa in a tweet.
The remaining Team PH entourage, backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, led by its chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez, soldiers on, with boxing, shooting and rowing matches scheduled on Day 3 Sunday.