PH’s Lopez scores shock win vs Korean champ

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Pauline Louise Lopez shocked defending champion Ah-Reum Lee of Korea, 8-6, to claim the women’s -57-kilogram gold medal in the 2016 Asian Taekwondo Championships on Wednesday at the Marrriott Hotel Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.

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Lopez ended the 17-year gold medal drought of the country. Roberto Cruz, now member of the national team coaching staff, won the last gold in the Asian Championships in 1999.

“The feeling is surreal right now. I know God has a plan, and I think this is his plan. Before fighting, coach Igor [Mella], even my dad, kept telling me nameless, faceless, trust in His plans,” said Lopez who burst in tears of joy.

Earlier, Lopez beat Mahsa Jeddi of Iran 7-5 in the semifinals.

With three seconds left in the third round, Lopez connected a right jump turning 45 back kick to Jeddi’s chest to win the match and grab a finals berth.

The crucial three-point kick was delivered prior to Jeddi’s one-point advantage, 5-4, in the last round.

“That’s your game, Pauline,” a proud Philippine Taekwondo Association training director Igor Mella told his ward after the match.

Lopez subdued Sae-Lao Thanapa of Thailand, 6-3, in the women’s -57 quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, the Philippines already won a silver medal and bronze medal courtesy of Kristopher Robert Uy and Kirstie Elaine Alora, respectively.

Alora, who already booked a ticket to the Rio Olympic Games, lost to Seavmey Sorn of Cambodia, 1-0, in the women’s -73kg semifinals.

Uy, on the other hand, lost to top seed opponent Dmitriy Shokin of Uzbekistan, 7-4, in the finals.

The other Filipino jins that bowed out early against their opponents were Keith Sembrano and Kaye Shannele Romuar in the men’s -68kg and women’s -62kg, respectively.

Sembrano lost to Alireza Alyari of Iran, 4-22, while Romuar was booted out by Tarman Shahid of Jordan, 2-3.

On Tuesday, rookie Rhezie Aragon absorbed a 3-8 lost to Anastasya Ostrovskaya of Kazakhstan in their women’s -53kg class opening game.

Singapore Southeast Asian Games silver medalist Francis Aaron Agojo also lost to his Mongolian opponent Tumenbayar Molom, 6-10, in the round-of-16.

2014 Incheon Asian Games bronze medalist Levita Ronna Ilao, also absorbed an 8-12, decision loss to Jordanian Razan Alsaideh in their quarterfinals match in the women’s -49-kilogram division.

The other Philippine jins who were eliminated were Jennar Torillos, rookie Arvien Alcantara, and Karen Cells, in the men’s -54-kg, -63-kg. and women’s -46 division, respectively.

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