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This early, Pinay jin is prepping for Tokyo Games

By Dennis Principe

Taekwondo jin Pauline Lopez was a win away from qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics but was derailed in her bid when she lost to her Thai rival during the Asian qualifier which the country hosted last year.

Instead of wallowing in that defeat, the 20-year-old Lopez quickly rose to the occasion by winning a gold in the Asian championship, the regional event that happened just days after the Asian Olympic qualifier held April last year at the Marriot Hotel.

The experience of narrowly missing a chance to become an Olympian is turning out to be Lopez’ motivation as she intends to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games in Japan.

“That just made me realized that I can do this for the next Olympic cycle so right now I just started training for it. Hopefully the next time around it happens for me,” Lopez told The Bulletin/Tempo during a break in her Manila training camp.

Lopez is in the midst of her preparations for next month’s Southeast Asian Games where she is the defending champion in the under 57kg division.

Lopez believes she is doing well in training as she aims to keep the SEAG gold she won back in 2015 in Singapore, noting that she is just coming off a gold winning performance in the tough Chuncehon Korean Open held last week in Gangwon province in South Korea.

“For each of our players, since we are training very hard, we expect to bag that gold medal,” said Lopez.

Lopez and fellow 2015 SEA Games winner Samuel Morrison will be part of the SEA Games Taekwondo contingent together with Rio Olympian Kirstie Elaine Alora who will be the country’s flag bearer in next month’s biennial meet to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.