JAKARTA—Pauline Lopez struggled to hold back tears following a losing effort against China’s Luo Zongshi in the -57 kilograms division in the 2018 Asian Games taekwondo competition on Tuesday, a defeat that prevented her from advancing to the finals.
Lopez arrived here wanting to make it to the podium, and she achieved her goal when she advanced to the semifinals following a 20-0 demolition of Nepal’s Chunara Gyani in the quarterfinals.
But to have come so close to the finals only to fall short clearly disappointed Lopez who was emotional as she talked to reporters.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Lopez said of earning the Philippines’ fourth bronze medal here. “But it still hurts.”
She was at a clear disadvantage against Luo in the semifinals, as the Chinese fighter, who went on to win the gold, was 6-feet tall and had a six-inch height advantage on the Filipina.
Yet Lopez stressed that they had “a really good game plan” against her towering foe.
“I knew the distance,” she said. “I was trying to catch up with the four-point (hit), which is to turn to the body, turning to the face. But in doing so, I kept falling.”
“It wasn’t hesitation on my part, because no matter what, I was going for it,” added Lopez. “It’s just that I wasn’t reaching, I wasn’t scoring. I’m doing my part — it’s just that I wasn’t scoring.”
After trailing 2-0 after the first round, Lopez got on the board in the second and trailed 4-2 heading into the final frame. Luo was dominant in the third, however, and sent Lopez packing with an 11-4 win.
“It’s definitely painful, knowing that if I did this, it would have been different. If I did that, it would have been different,” said Lopez.
“But I can’t dwell on that right now,” she added. “I have to just move forward and go back to the gym, work on my mistakes.”
Lopez says she will chalk up the loss to experience, especially with a stint in the World Taekwondo Grand Prix on the horizon for her. “Next time, we know what to do,” she said.
“The (grand prix) is the next tournament. Only the top 32 are invited for this tournament, so I was blessed to be invited,” added Lopez, who will also serve as an ambassador for the Philippines in the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October.
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