National taekwondo team coach Japoy Lizardo said that he is confident Filipino jins will secure Olympic slots at the 2016 Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament beginning today at the Mariott Grand Ballroom Convention Center in Pasay City.
“With the training, dedication, commitment during the training, and their sacrifices, I know that our athletes can earn a slot,” Lizardo, a former national player told The Manila Times.
China, Uzbekhistan and Taiwan are the teams to beat, according to Lizardo.
Only the gold and silver medalists in the competition will earn berths in the Rio Games.
Unlike in the World Championship that has eight categories for male and female contestants, the Olympics offer only four categories apiece.
Only four players—two boys and two girls—are allowed to join the Manila meet.
The different categories in the male class are under 58 kilograms, U68kg, U80kg and over 80kg while the female class has U49, U57, U67 and over 67.
“This is a competition. Anything can happen. But the mission is very clear – to get a ticket,” said national training director Igor Mella.
The country’s top bets, according to Mella, are 2015 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Pauline Louise Lopez, 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Kirstie Elaine Alora, Samuel Thomas Harper and Kristopher Uy.
Before the competition, the players went through scientific training methods encompassing conditioning, agility, speed as well as the technical aspects of the game.
Besides the Rio qualifying event, three other tournaments namely the 4th Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, the 2nd Asian Para Taekwondo Open Championships and the 22nd Asian Taekwondo Championships will also be held in Manila from April 18 to 20 at the same venue.
More than 500 delegates from 30 countries are expected to join the five-day international meet.