MANILA, Philippines -- Kurt Barbosa's remarkable victory in the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification tournament on Saturday night was a showcase of the Filipino fighting spirit.
This, according to MVP Sports Foundation president Al Panlilio who hailed Barbosa for never giving up despite facing a daunting deficit.
Barbosa, a UAAP rookie-MVP from National University, trailed 41-33 against Zaid Al-Halawani of Jordan in the -58kg semifinals before mounting a stunning comeback.
Down 48-44 with just 12 seconds to go, Barbosa overwhelmed his foe and unleashed a kick in the final second that secured the come-from-behind win.
He is now through to the finals of the qualifiers and has secured a berth to the Tokyo Olympics. The top two finishes in each weight class secure spots to the Games.
"Kurt Barbosa gave the Filipino people a timely reminder that as long as there is still time left on the clock, we need to keep fighting," Panlilio said in a statement.
"Even if Kurt was down big in the third round, his belief in himself never wavered," he added. "And now, he is an Olympian."
"Congratulations to Kurt, the newest member of our Tokyo Olympics delegation, and congratulations to the entire Philippine team who competed in Jordan. The success of one is the success of everyone, because you all made each other better during your training."
Other Filipino jins were not as fortunate, with Pauline Lopez and Arven Alcantara bowing out early while Rio Olympian Kirstie Alora lost in the semifinals to Uzbekistan's Svetlana Osipova in the +67kg division.
Barbosa is now the ninth Filipino athlete to qualify to the Tokyo Olympics, joining boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesth Petecio and Carlo Paalam; gymnast Carlos Yulo; pole vaulter EJ Obiena; weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz; and rower Cris Nievarez.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrNnpJUOGE8