The Philippine Taekwondo Association vows to go all out to clinch spots in the Paris Olympics despite the retirement of its two prized athletes.
PTA president Rafael Alunan told Daily Tribune that they are determined to send athletes to the Summer Games despite the absence of former Olympian Kirstie Alora and four-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Butch Morrison.
After a stellar career in the international arena, the 33-year-old Alora and the 33-year-old Morrison formally announced that they will be walking away from active competition after missing the podium in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou.
With Alora and Morrison gone, tasked to carry the cudgels will be a new breed of jins headed by Tokyo Olympics veteran Kurt Barbosa.
Still, Alunan stressed that they will be ready to march into the Summer Games.
“It all depends if we are going to be invited. Hopefully, we will be able to send a delegation to the Paris Olympics,” said Alunan, who replaced Robert Aventajado as PTA chief.
“We’re ready. Every year, we continuously send people to compete in international competitions so that by the time we select the national team in major events, we have a composite group of men and women capable of winning medals in the Philippines.”
Alunan, however, admitted that they have yet to identify the athletes who will see action in various Olympic qualifying events.
“It’s tough to say. Even if you are a world champion, you have to go through the qualifying tournaments for the PTA to choose the best for the next tournament,” Alunan said, adding that they are on a lookout for fresh talents.
“The slot is not assured. Even if you are a world champion or a gold medalist in the previous tournament, you are not a shoo-in in major tournaments. You have to go through the filtering process.”
He added that their fruitless stint in the kyorugi events of the Asian Games is an eye-opener that they have to come up with stronger athletes.
“We have the speed and skills,” Alunan said.