EXPECT the Philippine taekwondo team to be ready to compete when the 29th Southeast Asian Games fires off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week. This was the assurance given by veteran team member and Philippine flag-bearer Kirstie Elaine Alora.
Speaking to a group of sportswriters on the sidelines of the send-off given to Philippine athletes for the SEA Games last week by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission, Ms. Alora said she is confident of them as a team doing well in the upcoming Games and win gold hardware for the country.
She cited the taekwondo team’s coming in prepared and go-getting mind-set for her bullishness of their chances.
“I think the whole team has good a chance of bringing home gold medals because we are coming in prepared for the SEA Games. We trained hard for this early with an eye on doing well. Personally I feel we can produce medals,” said the 2016 Rio Olympics campaigner.
Ms. Alora, who lost two of her matches in Rio last year, will be part of the taekwondo team that also includes Arven Alcantara, Dustin Jacob Mella, Francis Aaron Agojo, Morrison Samuel Thomas Harper, Raphael Enrico Mella, Rodolfo Reyes, Jr. and Rhezie Canama (men’s team) and Jocel Lyn Ninobla, Juvenille Faye Crisostomo, Pauline Louise Lopez and Rinna Babanto (women’s team).
They will try and claim as many of the 16 gold medals up for grabs in the taekwondo tournament in Kuala Lumpur which will take place from Aug. 26-29 at Hall 1 of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
OLYMPIAN AND FLAG-BEARER
Being an Olympian and flag bearer, Ms. Alora said she is all the more motivated to perform well in the 29th SEA Games.
“I’m proud and more inspired to do well and produce medals because I know people are looking at me because I’m the flag-bearer and having competed in the Olympics. But, of course, my focus is not being the flag-bearer but more of because I deserve to be there and win a gold medal,” said Ms. Alora, who missed out on her shot at an Olympic gold medal at the +67 kg. women’s taekwondo event by losing to Mexican Maria Espinoza, 4-1, in the Round of 16 of the Rio Olympics before dropping her chance at bronze in the repechage, 7-5, to Wiam Dislam of Morocco.
“I’m not looking at the SEA Games any less because I already competed in the Olympics. I have opponents in Kuala Lumpur who are also Olympians so it’s all the same. You have to go out and compete or else you fall, Olympian or not,” the 27-year-old College of St. Benilde product added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo