Pauline Lopez’s Olympic hopes will have to wait for three more years.
The 2019 Southeast Asian Games champion bowed out of contention for a place in this year’s Tokyo Olympics after suffering a 10-21 defeat from the hands Lebanon’s Laetitia Aoun in the women’s minus-57 kg quarterfinals of the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament at Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, Saturday.
Lopez trailed early in the opening round, but a swift kick to the Lebanese’s head knotted the count at three after the first two minutes of the bout.
In the second stanza, Lopez finally gained the upper hand after a well-timed kick hit Aoun’s head once more for a 6-3 advantage. That turned out to be her last hit.
Two consecutive head kicks from Aoun for a 10-6 lead at the end of the second round proved to be a warning as she took the momentum heading into the final round.
The match was pretty tight before a flurry of kicks from the Lebanese connected in the third and final round, pushing the lead to 15-10.
Penalties from Lopez compounded the situation. Aoun eventually took the seat to the semifinals and a chance for a berth to the Tokyo Games.
Four years ago, Lopez lost a close one in the semifinals of the qualifiers held here in the Philippines. Thailand’s Phannapa Harnsujin booked the ticket to the Rio Games at her expense, 5-2.