HANGZHOU, China—Should luck and the judges’ admiration come to their aid, poomsae aces Jocel Lyn Ninobla and King Patrick Perez might well be the first Filipinos on the medal stand of the 19th Asian Games.
Both of them Southeast Asian Games champions early this year, Perez is No. 4 in the rankings of the men’s individual poomsae while Ninobla, a former world champion, could easily get past the initial round when competitions begin Sunday.
There’s a tall hurdle coming their way though after taekwondo organizers merged the two poomsae disciplines—recognized and freestyle—into one event.
“We will be competing in both recognized and freestyle. It’s a big challenge since I’ve been more into recognized since I started poomsae,” said Ninobla, a three-time SEA Games gold medalist in women’s recognized event.
“We trained and went to several competitions overseas, so it’s going to be a plus for us in the Asian Games. We’ll just give our best,” added the 2013 world champion Ninobla, who also bagged a silver and bronze on the global stage.
Ninobla and Perez form part of the 12-man taekwondo team here, all of them aiming for at least a repeat act of 2006 in Doha, Qatar when the jins produced two silver and three bronze medals.
Two-time Asian Games bronze medalist Kirstie Elaine Alora and Tokyo Olympian Kurt Bryan Barbosa are the best hopes in the kyorugi (sparring) team along with the veteran Samuel Morrison.
“They’re ready. It’s hard (to repeat 2006) but we will try our best. That’s our challenge,” said Philippine Taekwondo Association secretary general Rocky Samson.
Philippine taekwondo brought home three bronze medals—two from the men’s and women’s team poomsae—and another from Pauline Lopez in the women’s -57kg in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.
Also vying for medals at the Lin’an Sports Culture and Exhibition Centre are David Cea, Arven Alcantara, Veronica Garces, Baby Jessica Canabal, Laila Delo and Jubilee Briones.