MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Taekwondo Association is sending its best team spearheaded by 2016 Rio Olympian Elaine Alora to the Olympic qualifying tournament set on March 26 and 27 in Amman, Jordan.
PTA secretary-general Rocky Samson said the responsibility of carrying the country’s bid of shooting for the maximum of four Tokyo slots falls on Alora, Pauline Lopez, Kurt Barbosa and Arven Alcantara.
“Our athletes have been preparing for the qualification since last year and we will send our four best athletes,” said Samson. “For now, we’re looking at Barbosa, Alcantara, Lopez and Alora.”
Samson, however, said things could change after the three-month bubble set up by the Philippine Sports Commission at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna next week.
“Nothing is set in stone yet, it can also change,” said Samson.
The four, along with another Olympic hopeful Butch Morrison, three sparring partners and coaches Caloy Padilla, Luis de Mesa and Al Christian dela Cruz will enter the “Calam-Bubble” on January 16.
There, they will join the 27-member boxing team that included Tokyo-bound Irish Magno and 2019 women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio, and the eight-member karatedo squad led by Junna Tsukii, Joan Orbon and Jamie Lim.
Another Olympic entrant Eumir Marcial could also fly in from Los Angeles.
“We are looking forward to the bubble for more extensive training and sparring,” said Samson.
Apart from Magno and Marcial, the country also has gymnast Caloy Yulo and pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, who have already made the cut to the quadrennial summer games.
And there is high hope that taekwondo can get someone in there too.
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