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19th Asian Games

Asian Games: Kurt Barbosa dealt heartbreak, bows out early

The Philippines lost another top medal hopeful as Tokyo Games veteran Kurt Barbosa dropped his opening-round match to Uzbekistan’s Omonjon Otajonov at the start of taekwondo’s Kyorugi (free sparring) event in the 19th Asian Games.

Barbosa started tentatively but rallied furiously, tying the score at 14-all at the end of the exciting two-round contest in the men’s -58-kilogram division at the Lin’an Sports Culture and Exhibition Centre in Hangzhou.

However, to Team PH’s disappointment, the Uzbek was declared the winner due to superiority.

Despite his height disadvantage, Barbosa was the more aggressive fighter in the second round, desperate to secure the win that would have sent him to the round-of-16.

“Alam mo naman si Kurt, walang kinatatakutan kahit na matangkad at mahaba ang kalaban niya,” said taekwondo official Rocky Samson. “But due to superiority, he lost.”

A similar fate befell Veronica Garces in the women’s -49 class as she lost to the taller third-seeded Mobina Nematzadeh in the round-of-16. She had won her opening match, defeating Tajikistan’s Shirinmohi Mirshakarzoda.

Garces did everything possible to score cleanly, but the Iranian, with her vast experience, proved elusive.

On Tuesday, two more jins will see action, with Joseph Chua going up against Nurbek Gazes of Kazakhstan in the round-of-16 of the men’s -63kg, while Baby Jessica Canabal, a silver medalist in the recent Korean Open, will tackle Japan’s Katoh Yuzuho in the women’s -53kg class.

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