Just like everyone else, Al Panlilio was at the edge of his seat, Saturday evening.
And it was because he was watching Kurt Barbosa’s qualifying match in the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament.
With just 12 seconds left in the win-or-go-home match that pitted the Filipino against Zaid Al-Hawani of Jordan, the 21-year-old Barbosa was down 44-48. Though the lead was insurmountable, it did not deter the young jin.
Barbosa connected on three kicks in a furious 6-1 rally to literally kick his way to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
For Panlilio, Barbosa gave a reminder to everyone about what the Filipino fighting spirit is all about.
“Kurt gave the Filipino people a timely reminder that for as long as there is still time left on the clock, we need to keep fighting.
“Even if Kurt was down big in the third round, his belief in himself never wavered and now he is an Olympian,” said the amiable president of the MVP Sports Foundation.
Barbosa’s entry to the Games kept the Filipino jins’ streak of participating in the Olympics going. However, his fellow Team Pilipinas jins Arven Alcantara, Pauline Lopez, and Kirstie Alora could not join him in Tokyo.
Still, Panlilio told them to keep their heads up as all of them had a hand in Barbosa’s success.
Since January, the Philippine National Taekwondo Team trained inside the Inspire Sports Academy in preparation for this meet. Yes, all of them made sacrifices to make this moment happen.
“The success of one is the success of everyone because you all made each other better during your training.”
Now, Barbosa 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 in Team Pilipinas’ 2020 Olympics team.
And MVP SF vows to give all of them the support they need to end the country’s gold medal drought in the global meet.
“As always, the MVP Sports Foundation will be here to support Kurt and the Philippine Taekwondo Association in their preparations for the Olympics.”