Veteran jin Pauline Louise Lopez ended the country’s 17-year gold medal drought when she topped the women’s under 57-kilogram of the 22nd Asian Tae kwon do Championships held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City.
The 19-year old Lopez on Wednesday, shocked defending champion Ah-Reum Lee of South Korea via an 8-6 decision win in the finals of the tournament sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation.
According to Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) training director Igor Mella, the final showdown of Lopez and Lee was “really a mental game.”
“It was a lot of mental. Of course we prayed a lot and she also prepared mentally. Pauline really de-served this victory. She stayed on. She did not care if her opponent is a Korean champion. She did what her training brought her,” Mella told The Manila Times.
Mella told his ward to focus on herself and keep away all the external things that could boggle the ath-letes’ mind.
“I told her she has to focus and relax so she can tell her body what to do. She stayed on that and medi-tates. It was simply to be in a relaxed state. And she thinks nothing else that is why she fought very well.” Mella said.
Three days ago, Lopez absorbed a heartbreaking loss to Phannapa Harnsujin of Thailand, 2-5, in the semifinals of the Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament.
With very optimistic mindset, she considered the painful defeat as an inspiration to win her next com-petition.
And she did win her next contest.
“Definitely, God has plans for me. This is just another road to Tokyo,” Lopez said.
Mella added, “Things happen for a good reason. Though she did not qualify for this Olympics, she is still young. She’s 19 now and by the time Tokyo 2020 comes, she is 23 and I believe she is ready for it. Our preparation starts today. We have a lot of work to do. We will be doing better the next one.”
Meanwhile, Kirstie Elaine Alora will be the lone Filipino jin in the Rio Olympics with her silver medal fin-ish in the women’s +67 kilograms division of the Asian Olympic Qualification last week.
JEAN RUSSEL V. DAVID