Pinoy jins begin quest for Olympic berths
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 15, 2016 07:57 PM
Singapore SEA Games gold medalist Samuel Morrison faces Palestine Tanrikukulu Bahri for his opening-round foe in the -80-kilogram division on Saturday.
The Philippine taekwondo campaign to return to the Olympics begins on Saturday as three Filipino jins swing into action in the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualifying tournament at the Mariott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.
Kirstie Elaine Alora will try to draw first blood for the hosts when she faces Nepal’s Nisha Rawal in the women’s +67-kilogram division featuring only five entries.
Assuming Alora hurdles the Nepalese, she will face Iraninan top seed Akram Khodabandeh, who drew a bye and was a 2014 Incheon Asian Games silver medalist, to book a spot in the finals and qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Only the champion and runner-up in each weight division will earn spots for Rio in the event organized by the Philippine Taekwondo Association and sponsored by Smart, PLDT, Meralco, the MVP Sports Foundation and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Samuel Morrison faces Palestine Tanrikukulu Bahri for his opening-round foe in the -80-kilogram division. Should he win, Morrison will take on against No. 3 seed Wei-Ting Liu of Taiwan in the quarterfinals of the weight division made up 10 entries.
Liu is an Incheon Asian Games veteran and won a gold in the Canada Open championships last February.
The last to see action for Philippine Squad is Filipino-American Kristopher Uy whose opening-round foe will be Palestine’s Bahri Tanrikulu of the clas composed of nine entries.
Should he beat the Palestinian, Uy tackles top-seeded Ruslan Zhaparov of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.
Pauline Louise Lopez, who also won a gold in the Singapore SEA Games, is seeded No. 2 in the women’s -57 kilogram competition scheduled for Sunday and whose draw will only be released on Saturday.
“Whatever happen, I believe all four are ready and equipped to compete in the Asian Olympic qualifiers,” said national coach Rodolfo Cruz. “But we need the prayers of our Filipino fans for them to succeed and make it back to Rio.”
The country is bidding to return to Olympic play after Filipino jins failed to qualify for the first time in the 2012 London Olympiad since the sports made its debut in the premier world sports showcase at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Tshomlee Go and Marie Antoinette Rivero were the last Filipinos who saw action in the quadrennial meet, competing in the 2008 Beijing Games.