It is not over until it is over.
A buzzer-beating kick sent Kurt Barbosa into the Tokyo Olympics after a thrilling 50-49 win over Zaid Al-Hawani in the qualifying match of the 2021 Taekwondo Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament’s men’s minus-58 kg division held at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, Saturday.
This is the first time a Filipino male taekwondo jin has clinched an Olympic berth after Tshomlee Go bagged his in the same weight class 13 years ago in Beijing.
Al-Hawani used his size advantage to lead up 48-43 with 24 seconds remaining. Still, a penalty given to the Jordanian gave Barbosa a lease for life.
The 21-year-old Filipino jin used this advantage to pressure the taller foe to continue attacking or risk losing on a punitive declaration. The Jordanian had already amassed nine penalties by then.
It was a blessing in disguise for the fiery Barbosa, as he connected on three consecutive kicks to the body. That eventually ended the male athlete drought for the country in the sport, and continues its streak of Olympic participation.
The National University student-athlete actually led at 14-11 after the first two minutes of the bout, before Al-Hawani turned it around to 44-35 in the second.
Barboza joins weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; boxers Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Irish Magno; pole-vaulter EJ Obiena; gymnast Caloy Yulo; and rower Carl Nievarez at the Games.
Kirstie Elaine Alora will also compete for another Olympics spot for women’s plus-68 kg later tonight.