OFFICIALS of the Philippine Taekwondo Association are upbeat of the country’s chances in the coming 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
Medals won in three international meets in 2016 have inspired the PTA to prepare early for various tournaments leading to the biennial meet.
Over 100 jins have been selected for the national training pool, and around 32 elite bets are now in the priority list of the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Meron tayong around 100 athletes kung saan tayo puwede bumunot ng players for different competitions next year. Napakadami ng competitions natin next year,” said national head coach Igor Mella in a radio interview.
The Filipino jins will be sent first to the Asian junior and cadets’ competitions this April and May.
Then, another set of jins will be at the world championship of sparring in Korea from June 22 to 26.
Next up is the Korean Open in July, before a selection of nine jins will be headed to the 2017 SEA Games in August.
Mella added that this series of competitions will help them choose the national jins, who will go to qualifiers for the the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
He said it will be a challenge to send athletes to the SEA Games, considering that the organizers have limited entries per country, which is 3 out of 5 in male sparring, 3 out of 6 in female division, and 3 out of 6 events in poomsae.
The last time around, the Philippines finished second overall in the 2015 SEA Games with a 3-3-3 gold-silver bronze medal tally, 2 golds behind top notcher Vietnam.
In 2016, the Philippines had a good showing with Kirstie Elaine Alora qualifying to the Rio Olympics where she finished 8th overall out of 16 entries.
Pauline Lopez showed the way for host Philippines in a 1-1-1 gold-silver-bronze medal haul in the Asian Taekwondo Championships at the Marriot Hotel.
Team Pilipinas also earned a gold in the World Poomsae and a bronze at the World Juniors’ Sparring Championships.