Team Pilipinas’ campaign in the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualifying Tournament got off to a rough start.
Arven Alcantara absorbed a huge loss against Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov, 9-23, in the quarterfinal of the men’s minus-68 kg class of the OQT held at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, Friday.
Rashitov turned aggressive midway into the third and final round, scoring on a flurry of head kicks to lead 14-6, effectively extinguishing any hopes for a comeback from Alcantara.
The 2019 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist racked up points on the board off Rashitov’s penalties, but the lead was already too much as the latter came up with the win and a spot in the semifinals.
After a defensive opening round that saw a late head kick from Rashitov, Alcantara consolidated a penalty from the Uzbek for grabbing with a swift head kick to take the lead at 5-3 halfway into the second frame.
The semifinals of the said weight class are ongoing as of publishing. The winners of the two matches will book their places at the Tokyo Games later this year.
Rio Olympian Elaine Alora and Southeast Asian Games champions Pauline Lopez and Kurt Barbosa will close Team Pilipinas’ campaign at these qualifiers as they step on the mats on Saturday.