Pauline Lopez fell short in making it to the Tokyo Olympics after bowing in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Asian Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament at Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, Saturday.

/ 23 May 2021

The Southeast Asian Games gold medalist suffers a heartbreaking defeat against the 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Laetitia Aoun of Lebanon, 21-10, in the packed women’s -57kgs division that drew 12 athletes. 

However, Lopez uncorked a dominating win over Syria’s Aya Al-Jarayhe, 22-0, in Round of 16 in the openers. 

Coming to the quarterfinals, Lopez dragged early in the opening round but pulled a swift kick right into the Lebanese’s head that paralleled the score, 3-3, after the first two minutes of the bout.

Then, the Filipina champion broke the deadlock by a well-timed kick that connected on the head of Aoun to lead 6-3 at the start of the ensuing round.

However, heading into the final round, the Lebanese jin rallied down the stretch with two consecutive head kicks which saw Aoun racked a commanding 11-6 score.

Aoun became unstoppable in the third round, unleashing a flurry of kicks and a highlight of a body kick that sent Lopez down on the floor in the last minute of the match, 17-10, that made Aoun eventually clinched a seat to the semifinals and a chance for a berth to the Tokyo Games.

With the result, the country is hopeful that Kurt Barbosa in men’s -58 kg and 2016 Rio Olympian Kirstie Alora in women’s +67 kg will deliver for the Philippines that will pave their way to the Tokyo Olympics. 

Barbosa will head against Zaid Al-Halawani of Jordan in the semifinals, where a victory would send him to the Tokyo Games this year while Alora will face Kazakhstan’s Cansel Deniz in a semifinal duel. 

Both taekwondo aces carry the same fate, should they win their respective matches, they will clinch a spot for the Tokyo Games.