Aiming to secure a berth in the Rio Games this year, the Philippines will host the 2016 Asian Taekwondo Continental Olympic Qualifying Games on April 16 to 17 at the Mariott Grand Ballroom Convention Center in Pasay City.
Competition manager Raul Samson announced that the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) bagged the hosting rights of the only Asian taekwondo qualifying event.
Besides the Rio qualifying event, three other tournaments namely the 4th Asian Tae-kwondo Poomsae Championships, the 2nd Asian Taekwondo Para Open Championships and the 22nd Asian Taekwondo Championships will also be held in Manila from April 18 to 20 at the same venue.
“Ang pinaka-importante sa atin ay ‘yung qualification [tournament]. Kapag ang players natin nanalo ng silver or gold (If our players won silver or gold medal), they get a ticket to the Olympic Games,” said Samson during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday at Sha¬key’s in Malate, Manila.
Over 30 countries and more than 500 delegates are expected to partake in the five-day international meet.
Among the participating Asian countries are Korea, China, Taiwan and Iran.
Unlike in the World Championship that has eight categories for male and female contestants, the Olympics has 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.
“We are choosing from our hopefuls and we are still finalizing [the roster]. Tuluy-tuloy lang ang training ng mga players and we are studying carefully kung sino ang pipiliin,” Taekwondo National Team Training Director Igor Mella said.
Also present in the forum was 2015 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Pauline Louise Lopez, a prospective Philippine bet.
“My training has been very rigid and tough, not just in physical but also mental,” said the 19-year old Lopez.
Mella is hoping that the home court advantage will increase the country’s chances of winning.
“We are hoping for the best, best results for our team. First, we don’t have to acclimatize and adjust on the time. Plus the home crowd fans and enthusiast to really cheer for the team,” said Mella.
Taekwondo made its Olympic debut during the 2000 Sydney Games.
Samson said that players now use specialized electronic armor and headgear that register kicks and punches applied with sufficient force.
“With this technology, we are becoming more objective because the scoring is based on the computer. This is good for the sport and fair for all,” said Samson.
Registration for the tournaments will be until the end of March. For details contact 5220519.