Filipino taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora.
MANILA-- It was a classic David versus Goliath match. Except this was the female of the species.
It was Iran’s 6’1” Akram Khodabandeh, a multiple medalist who stood in the way of the Philippines' Elaine Alora and a berth to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in the Female +67 kg category.
However, Alora, herself a multiple medalist, used her speed and quickness to offset the height and reach advantage in a brilliant 10-3 win with a raucous crowd cheering her on at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.
Alora kept her distance and quickly pounced in when Khodabandeh missed a kick. Her first three points were all from linear kicks. Her head kick in the third round created more space and only made the Iranian reckless in her attacks that led to more points for the Filipina.
Earlier, Alora blanked Nepalese counterpart Nisha Rewal, 9-0, in an impressive display of offense and counter-attacking.
“I think what helped was a very good game plan,” said the 26-year old lass from Biñan, Laguna. “We studied how to counter the size advantage of our opponents and just really used my speed and quickness. Coach Japoy (Lizardo) said that I must be also quick in my thinking on the floor. It’s an incredible feeling to be going to the Olympics but on the other hand, I feel sad that Butch (Morisson) and Kristofer (Uy) didn’t make it.
Morrison booked a quarterfinals seat in Male +80 kg. class against the bemedalled Taiwanese fighter Liu Wei-Ting. The Zambales native was leading 6-3 in the final round when Lui landed two head kicks that sent the crowd favorite crashing out of the tournament.
“It’s disappointing,” was all a disconsolate Morrison could say after the match.
Kristoffer Uy lost via Golden Point, 7-6, to Palestinian Bahri Tanrikulu in the opening round.
"We are very blessed with this ticket to the Olympics care of Elaine,” said Philippine National Training Team Director Igor Mella. “It is a well-deserved victory. All through the rounds against a multiple medalist Elaine remained very confident and focused. The head kick that she threw against the Iranian? That was coming. In fact, Elaine is know for those. During the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, she knocked out a six-foot tall Cambodian using a very difficult jumping turning kick in the dying seconds of the third round."
"Elaine she knows when to come in and when to pull out and kick at an opponent. That was the strategy, to stay on the opponent. After all, Elaine being 5’7”, we expect that all her opponents are taller.”
As of press time, Alora was fighting for the gold medal in her category.
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