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Alora ends finals drought in Asian Championships, bags silver

Kirstie Elaine Alora had a triumphant campaign despite losing against Korea’s Yoon Do-hee in the final of the women’s plus-73 kg class, 5-14, at the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Championships at the Nouhad Naufal Indoor Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Filipina was no stranger to Asian Championships podium as she bagged bronze in both the 2013 and 2016 editions. The latter, just days after she booked qualification to the Rio Olympics.

Nonetheless, a finals stint in the championships was nothing but a dream for her until this day came.

The 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist opened the scoring in the final round with a punch to cut the deficit to just five, 4-9. She then tried to stay aggressive but could not connect from her kicks.

Instead, it was Yoon who registered a sidekick to take the lead at 11-4, before an axe kick with 45 seconds left sealed the gold for the Korean.

It was like that from the start as the Korean had a comfortable 7-2 lead after the first round before a rather defensive battle happened in the second.

Thus a win during the semifinals was very much welcome to stop all these semifinals heartbreaks, and she did in dramatic fashion against Kazakhstan’s Axaule Yerkassimova, 9-8.

A well-timed punch with just 26 seconds left gave the Filpino Olympian the lead at 8-7, which turned out to be the difference and her ticket into the gold medal match, as they just traded penalties the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, 2019 Southeast Asian Games champion Dave Cea missed out on a medal just at the tail-end of his quarterfinal match for the men’s minus-74 kg class. The match was close as the National University product trailed by just one at 17-18, but Uzbekistan’s Shakboz Tusmatov eventually blew the match out with a huge 14-0 run for a 32-17 win.

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Cea earlier forced the referee to stop the contest after Syrian opponent Motasem Albokai could not continue their Round of 16 match, stopping the match with 1:01 seconds left in the second round and with the lead at 43-13.

Rheza Aragon and Kurt Pajuelas lost their only matches in the women’s minus-49 and men’s minus-58 kg classes, respectively.

Uzbekistan’s Dinora Mukhtarova dealt Aragon a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat, while Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yu-Xiang only needed a few seconds of the third round to eventually stop Pajuelas on point gap at 24-6.

Team Pilipinas will close out the championships tomorrow.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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