Four Filipino jins to chase Olympic tickets in Amman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30) – Kirstie Alora, the country's lone taekwondo bet in the 2016 Rio Olympics, will lead three other Filipino jins in the Asian Olympic qualifiers on May 14-16 in Amman, Jordan, as she aims for her second straight Olympic berth.

Joining Alora are 2019 Southeast Asian Games medalists Pauline Lopez, Kurt Barbosa, and Arven Alcantara, who are seeking their first Olympic appearances.

The four Filipino jins are hoping to continue the country's tradition of sending elite taekwondo athletes in the Summer Olympics.

Since becoming an official medal sport in the 2000 Sydney Games, the Philippines was able to send taekwondo bets in the Olympics, except in the 2012 London edition. Filipino jins also competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, when taekwondo was still a demonstration sport.

National team head coach Dindo Simpao told CNN Philippines that the Filipino taekwondo bets are continuously training in a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, despite the imposition of stricter movement restrictions in the area.

"We did not allow them to break training camp. There's no other way for us because the area is the best place for them to prepare," Simpao said.

The Filipino jins started to train in Calamba last January.

Simpao added they have been working thoroughly on the jins' strength and conditioning for the Olympic qualifiers, as he admitted the virtual workouts they did last year are not enough to prepare them for the upcoming tournament.

"With taekwondo being a contact sport, it is not enough to train on your own. We really have to make a lot of adjustments in our practice sessions when we started our face-to-face training last January," Simpao said.

Simpao emphasized the Filipino jins have a strong chance to perform in their best form at the Amman Olympic qualifiers, since all taekwondo athletes in the world are limited to train in their own country due to the lack of taekwondo tournaments brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This scenario opens up a lot of opportunities for us. We are on equal footing because other taekwondo athletes don't have exposure in tournaments prior to the Olympic qualifiers," he said.

In the Asian Olympic qualifiers, the two jins who will advance in the finals for each division will earn tickets to the Tokyo Olympics taekwondo competitions, which will be played from July 24 to 27.