Taekwondo jin Alora books ticket to Rio Olympics

ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 16, 2016 05:03 PM
Taekwondo jin Alora books ticket to Rio Olympics
Alora becomes the fifth Filipino to clinch a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics

Kirstie Elaine Alora booked her ticket to the Rio Olympic Games with a runner-up finish in the women’s +67-kilogram division of the Asian Taekwondo Olympic qualifying tournament Saturday at the Mariott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.

Assured of an Olympic slot after an emphatic 10-2 win over Iranian top seed Akram Khobdabandeh in the semifinals, Alora appeared drained in losing to Cambodia’s Seavney Sorn, who used her height and length in reasserting her mastery over her Filipina rival, 5-0, in the gold-medal match.  

Sorm had previously beaten Alora on the way to capturing the gold medal in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

Nonetheless, the Pinay jin joined the ranks of the ranks of trackster Eric Shawn Cray, boxers Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon and weighlifter Hidylin Diaz who have already qualified for the Rio Games.

Drawing more than 200 Olympic hopefuls from 35 countries, only the champion and runner-up in the in the four weight divisions of the tournament will make it to Rio.

Also making a bid for Rio is Pauline Louise Lopez, a Singapore SEA Games gold medalist, who opens her campaign against Malaysia’s Nurul  Farah Alisa in the women’s -57-kilogram division on Sunday.

Just like a steam engine, Alora just got better with every round in outclassing Khobdabandeh, capped off by a roundhouse kick to the Iranian’s head in the third round – good for three points – on the way to becoming the country’s  latest qualifier to the global sports showcase in August.

“Talagang pinagaaralan naming  yong Iranian at gamitan siya ng speed,” said Alora of their strategy in subduing the the Iranian, who bagged a silver medal in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

Alora advanced to the finals against Cambodian Incheon Games gold medalist  Seavmey Sorn later in the day .

“Masayang-masaya ako at may slot na tayo,” added Allora, 26, a bronze medalist in the Incheon Asiad.

She will be following in the footsteps of Marie Antoinette Rivero, the last Pinay jin to see action in the quadrennial meet at the 2008 Beijing Games.    

A  La Salle Business Administration graduate, Alora had earlier beaten Nepal’s Nisha Rewal 9-0  in the quarterfinals in the field of five entries.

Alora’s triumph softened the impact somewhat of heartbreaking setbacks suffered by Pinoy jins Samuel Morrison and Kristopher Robert Uy to their respective rivals earlier in the tournament sponsored by Meralco, Smart, PLDT, the Philippine Sports Commission and Resorts World Manila.

Vying in the men’s -80-kg division, Morrison, a 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, earlier hurdled Pakistan’s Muhammad Faheem in the round-of-16 after the latter was disqualified for feigning injury in a match declared as a referee stoppd contest.

But he allowed victory to slip from his grasp in the quarterfinals to Taiwanese Wei Ting-Liu, who rallied from a 3-6 deficit with successive roundhouse kicks to the head of the Filipino in the third and final round to eventually fashion a thrilling 9-7 decision.

Uy also encountered similar frustrations in the men’s +80-kg division to Palestine’s Bahri Tanrikulu, a former three-time world champion, who also came back from 3-6 down in the final round to score a 7-6 victory over the hometown bet.   

After a tentative start in the opening round, Alora woke up  in the second against Riwal, connecting with a turning kick to the open stomach for a 3-0 lead, and never looked back.

Although up 2-0 in the first round,, Faheem fell down after being allegedly hit in the neck – an illegal blow - by Morrison and refused to get up despite instructions of the referee, who ruled that there was no offense committed,  disqualifying  the Palestinian after being warned twice.

A former Turkish national, Tanrikulu rallied from a 3-6 deficit by scoring three points in the waning seconds of the third round- a jumping turning 45-degree kick to Uy’s body – to send the match to a  sudden-death fourth “ golden round.”

A silver medalist in 2004 Athens Olympics, the Palestinian jin connected with a counter 45-degree kick as Uy tried to close in to settle the issue and advance to the quarterfinals.

“It was that close,” rued Uy, 26, a gold medalist in the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games who had to skip last year’s Singapore’s edition because his weight division was scrapped.

Uy, who took a leave of absence at La Salle to concentrate on his training,   was uncertain if he would continue competing after his failed Olympic bid. 

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