Pinoy jins eye spots to Rio Olympics
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 14, 2016 06:45 PM
Pauline Lopez is one of four Filipino jins eyeing a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics Taekwondo competition (Photo courtesy Pal Pillai/SINGSOC)
The country’s four aspirants to the Rio Olympic Games will know who their opening rivals will be during the draw for the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament at the Garden Room of the Manila Marriott Hotel inside the Newport Complex in Pasay City on Friday.
The draw follows the team managers meeting set at 4 p.m. among the 34 countries vying in the two-day qualifying competition aimed at the determining the continent’s additional representatives to the global sports showcase set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.
Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Samuel Morrison and Pauline Louise Lopez, who will be seeing actin in the men’s -80-kilogram and women’s -57-kg divisions, respectively, banner the Philippine bid to earn tickets to the Rio Games.
Filipino-American Kristopher Robert Uy, who will fight in the men’s +80-kg class, and Kirstie Elaine Alora, who will compete in the women’s +67-kg category, are the other candidates as the country aims to make an Olympic comeback after missing the boat in the 2012 London Games.
“This is a do-or-die situation for our Filipino jins but I know they will do their best so we can return to the Olympics,” said Philippine Taekwondo Association chief executive officer Hong Sung Chong said yesterday during the press conferencce for the event held at the Hub of the Mariott Hotel.
“While I pray that all would qualify, we all know that the competition is going to be tough,” Hong, considered the father Philippine taekwondo, noted. “It is good that we have given the opportunity to play in front of the hometown crowd.”
“We have the best and most experienced fighters competing in the Olympic qualifiers,” assured PTA national training director Igor Mella, adding that all four are fresh from intensive sparring for two weeks with national team-caliber Korean fighters.
Tournament director Rocky Samson said that Allora appears to have drawn the lightest assignment with five entries in her division “so if she draws a bye in the first round then she gets to earn a ticket to Rio. But I should also say that the other four other athletes are pretty tough”
The champion and runnerup in each division will qualify for the Rio Games in the competition sponsored by Smart, PLDT, Meralco, MVP Sports Foundation, and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Olympic Committee.
The Asian Taekwondo Olympic qualifying tournament ushers in a nearly weeklong showcase for the combat sport with the 4th Asian Taekwondo Poomsae and 2nd Asian Para Taekwondo Open set on April 18 and capped by the Asian Taekwondo Championships on April 19-20.