A PERENNIAL Olympic stalwart for the Philippines will surely be missed when the country's 11-man team begins its arduous campaign in the London Games.
Taekwondo, for so long considered a medal sport for the Filipinos in the Olympiad the past decade, failed to secure a berth in this year’s Games following three successive stints since year 2000 in Sydney.
No local jin made it past the two qualifiers held for the Olympics.
The retirement of veteran Tshomlee Go and the injury to Antoinette Rivero definitely affected the country’s campaign for a breakthrough Olympic medal in the sport.
Go retired from active competition after recently getting married and opted to settle down in the US, while Rivero didn’t get to compete in the qualifiers after being sidelined by injury.
Both Go and Rivero are two-time Olympians.
But Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) technical committee head Rocky Samson offered no excuses about the setback.
“Basically, during the qualifying rounds, our players were prepared for the Worlds and Asian qualifiers,” said Samson, head coach of the national team for six years until 2011, in a talk with Spin.ph.
“It just so happened that they lost. The breaks weren’t on our side. Things happen,” Samson said.
With their absence in London, Samson said the PTA is now gearing up for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Games. He believes the current crop of taekwondo jins can still be a force four years from now.
The present national team includes Southeast Asian Games veterans Japoy Lizardo and Kristie Elaine Alora, along with the likes of up-and-coming jins Ma. Camille Manalo, Samuel Morrison, Jyra Lizardo, Marlon Avenido and Jade Zafra, who had already competed for the country in the Asian Olympic qualifiers.
“Hindi mo sila masasabing bagong sibol pa lang pero hindi pa rin sila katulad nila Tshomlee at Toni na hinog na hinog na,” Samson said.
Samson said they are doing everything to return to the Olympics, including the use of technology for training.
“Inaakyat na natin ang level kaya kapag lumaban na tayo sa mas mataas na level, hindi na maninibago sa technology,” said Samson.
“But definitely, pwedeng pwede pa ‘yung national team natin sa 2016 kaya ‘yun ang mas pinaghahandaan namin,” Samson added.