Pinoy jins kick off gold medal hunt

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KUALA LUMPUR: The 12-man Philippine national taekwondo team is in high spirit and ready for battle in the four-day taekwondo event of the 29th Southeast Asian Games starting Saturday at the KL Convention Center here.

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“We are very much prepared,” said national assistant coach Dindo Simpao on the eve of the competition of the four poomsae players, who will be defending the crown led by Dustin Jacob Mella, Raphael Enrico Mella at Rodolfo Reyes, Jr. in the men’s team event.

Reyes will also see action in the individual event at 8:30 in the morning until 4:45 in the afternoon at the KLCC near the famous Petronas Tower.

“We are targeting to equal if not surpass our 2015 Singapore SEA Games production of 3-3-2 gold-silver-bronze medals,” added Simpao, whose wards campaigned in the World Championships last May and in the Korean Open in July also in South Korea.

Jocelyn Ninobla, Juvenille Faye Crisostomo and Rinna Babanto are aiming to surpass their bronze medal finish in the Singapore SEAG, where Babanto likewise brought home a silver in the individual event.

All eyes will be also on the men’s and women’s kyorugi individual event of 2015 SEAG featherweight champion Samuel Morrison, who is now campaigning in the lower lightweight (74kg) category.

Also in the team is Arven Alcantara in the 68 kg and 2017 Korea Open gold medal winner Pauline Lopez, also a gold winner in the women’s featherweight in 2015 in Singapore. She will see action in the lightweight category here.

Other taekwondo jins like Rhezie Aragon (53kg) will take the floor on Monday while on Tuesday is 2016 Rio Olympian and 2017 SEA Games flag bearer Kirstie Elaine Alora (73kg) and Francis Aaron Agojo (58kg).

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