Kurt Barbosa of the Philippines secured a ticket to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with a thrilling, come-from-behind win against a hometown bet in the semifinals of the men's -58kg semifinals at the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification tournament in the capital city of Amman, Jordan on Saturday.
Barbosa had to fight through in the dying seconds of the third round to squeeze out a 50-49 win against the lengthier Zaid Al-Halawani.
The Filipino, who got past Mongolia’s Molom Tumenbayar to make it to the semis, had it better against Al-Halawani in Round 1, 11-14.
But the Jordanian dominated in the next two rounds for a seemingly insurmountable 41-33 lead.
Barbosa, however, fought on, landing strikes to chip away at Al-Halawani's lead, 43-48.
With barely 30 seconds to go, the 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist went all out and outstruck the Jordanian by one point to make it to the final and more importantly land an Olympic berth.
The top 2 finishers in each weight division advance to the Tokyo Games.
Barbosa will join fellow Olympians Ernest John Obiena (pole vault), Carlos Yulo (Gymnastics), Eumir Marcial (boxing), Irish Magno (boxing), Nesthy Petecio (boxing), Carlo Paalam (boxing),
Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting) and Cris Nievarez (rowing) in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, Kirstie Elaine Alora lost her chance for a second consecutive Olympic appearance after yielding to Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Osipova.
Alora failed to get past Osipova's defense and bowed out of contention in a 27-5 loss in the women's +67 kg semifinals.
Pinoy jins Pauline Lopez and Arven Alcantara also made a valiant effort to fight for an Olympic berth.
But Lopez lost 21-10 to Lebanon’s Laetitia Aoun in the quarterfinals, while Alcantara bowed to Uzbekistan's Ulugbek Rashitov, 23-9.