KIRSTIE Elaine Alora booked her ticket to the Rio Olympics by soundly beating Iranian top seed Akram Khobdabandeh, 10-2, in the women’s +67-kilogram semifinals of the Asian Taekwondo Olympic qualifying tournament at the Mariott Grand ballroom in Pasay City on Saturday.
Alora’ win over Khobdabandeh was highlighted by a roundhouse kick to the Iranian’s head in the third round – good for three points – on the way to becoming the country’s latest qualifier to the Rio Olympics in August.
She joins the ranks of trackster Eric Cray, boxers Charly Suarez and Rogen Ladon as well as weightlifter Hidylin Diaz who have already qualified for the Rio Games.
A La Salle Business Administration graduate, Alora had earlier beaten Nepal’s Nisha Rewal 9-0 in the quarterfinals, setting up the semis showdown with Khobdabandeh, who drew an opening-round bye, in the field of five entries.
Only the champion and runner-up in the tournament will qualify for the Rio Olympics in a cast of 35 countries that drew more than 200 Olympic hopefuls.
Alora’s triumph softened the impact of the setbacks suffered by Pinoy jins Samuel Morrison and Kristopher Robert Uy to their respective rivals earlier in the tournament sponsored by Meralco, Smart, PLDT, the Philippine Sports Commission and Resorts World Manila.