Kurt Barbosa became the ninth Filipino to qualify to the Tokyo Olympics after securing a final berth in his division in the Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan Saturday night.
Barbosa, a 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, delivered the crucial blows in the last five seconds to turn back hometown bet Zaid Al-Halawani, 50-49, in the men’s -58kgs semifinals.
The win assured Barbosa of one of the two berths at stake in his weight class with fellow Olympic qualifier Ramnarong Sawekwiharee of Thailand, who prevailed over Haroon Khan of Saudi Arabia, 32-26.
Earlier, Barbosa bested 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Molomyn Tumenbayar of Mongolia, 40-33, in the quarterfinals.
Barbosa refused to give up the fight against Al-Halawani after trailing 41-28 with 1:14 left in the third round by racking up points against his taller rival.
He was actually trailing 48-43 in the last 21 seconds, but still remained aggressive until the final buzzer.
With his feat, Barbosa joins pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial.
Not so fortunate was Elaine Alora, who fell short of her bid for a second straight Olympic appearance after yielding to Svetlana Osipova of Uzbekistan, 27-5, in the women’s +67kgs.
Alora only needed to win the match to qualify to the Olympics as there were only four athletes in her weight division, but Osipova, a 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts games silver medalist, was a tough nut to crack.
Earlier, Pauline Lopez lost her chance to earn an Olympic ticket after bowing in the women’s -57kgs quarterfinals.
Arven Alcantara also lost in the men’s -68kgs last Friday.