RIO DE JANEIRO: The Philippine campaign in the 2016 Rio Olympics came to a close on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with tae kwon do’s Kirstie Elaine Alora breaking down in tears after absorbing two bitter defeats at the Carioca 3 of the Olympic Park.
Alora, the last Filipino athlete to vie for a medal here, bowed to Olympic champion Maria Espinoza of Mexico, 4-1, in her opening match. Then she blew her chance to salvage at least a bronze when she lost to Wiam Dislam of Morocco. 7-5.
The loss to Espinoza, gold medal winner in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and bronze medalist in London four years ago, left Alora figuring in the repechage (losers round). She needed two wins to get the bronze that but could not get past the first challenge.
Dislam stood 5-foot-11 and was easily three inches taller than Alora. But it didn’t turn out to be a breeze for the flag-bearer of the Moroccan delegation to the 2012 London Olympics. She trailed Alora in the third round, and was down, 5-4, with only 20 seconds left.
Alora lowered her guard and got caught with the equalizer, and then with two more quick points to the body. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the 26-year-old Alora had lost a won match, and kissed her Olympic medal hopes in the +67 kg class goodbye.
Alora was in tears as she spoke to reporters.
“Another sad moment because it was my second chance. But I was denied. I think I should continue fighting in this sport because f I won a medal here I might end up saying, ‘This is my last,’” said the heavy 26-year-old after losing to Dislam.
“The Lord has plans for me to continue fighting. I’m happy with the results here but I was not fortunate enough. It’s God’s will. Maybe he wants me to win in the Asian Championships or the World Championships before I become an Olympic champion,” said Alora.
With her loss, the Philippines will close the book on this campaign with a silver medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz in the women’s 53 kg division. It’s a historic win for Diaz because she became the country’s first female athlete to win a medal in the Olympics.
It was also the country’s first medal in 20 years.
“It was a good historic run. Our gallant thirteen athletes have made our country proud. All went fighting and doing everything they can and they are the best we have,” said chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta.