Asian Games preview: Taekwondo jins hoping to make up for previous Asiad performance

Editor's note: As part of our coverage of the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, we will be previewing the different national teams that will see action for the Philippines.

2014 Asian Games performance

The Filipinos wound up with only five bronze medals in the 2014 Asian Games, one of which was won by Kirstie Alora (middleweight). Two years later, she was the lone representative of the Philippines in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Also winding up with a bronze were Keith Sembrano (featherweight), Samuel Morrison (lightweight), Anjelay Pelaez (finweight), and Ronna Ilao (flyweight).

2018 Asian Games representatives

Men's team

  • Dustin Mella

  • Rodolfo Reyes Jr.

  • Jordan Dominguez

  • Jenar Tortillos

  • Francis Agojo

  • Arven Alcantara

  • Samuel Morrison

  • Kristopher Robert Uy

Women's team

  • Baby Jessica Canabal

  • Rhezie Aragon

  • Pauline Lopez

  • Darlene Arpon

  • Kirstie Elaine Elora

  • Janna Dominque Oliva

  • Juvenile Faye Crisostomo

  • Jocelyn Ninobla

  • Rinna Babanto

Background

The Philippines wasn't as productive as it usually is in terms of medal haul in the 2014 Asian Games.

Since then, the Filipinos have joined several international tournaments. Among which were the Southeast Asian Games and the Korean Open, where the Taekwondo team bagged a pair of bronze medals courtesy of Samuel Morrison and Kristopher Uy.

The Korean Open featured 10 to 12 Korean teams in each division. To say that it was a tough competition is actually an understatement since most of their potential opponents in the Asian Games competed in the same tournament.

"It was a very tough competition," said national taekwondo coach Dindo Simpao. "Basically, each of the Korean team is like facing their national team. That's how hard it was. To win a bronze there, it was a big thing."

Eager to fare better in the latest edition of the multi-sports spectacle, the team has intensified its training for the showpiece in Jakarta, Indonesia. The taekwondo contingent has been training night in and night out for almost a year.

Alora is confident the team will do better in the latest edition of the quadrennial meet with Simpao echoing the same sentiment. Both said the team is looking to improve on its finish this time.

"I think we are prepared. We only have to up the ante the final stretch of our training," she said in Filipino.

"We're definitely ready for the Asian Games. The goal is always to do more than what we had last time," said Simpao.

Prognosis for Indonesia

While countries like Korea, China, Chinese-Taipei, Thailand, and Iran remain the favorites to go home with a plethora of medals, the country is trying to be in the same breath as the aforementioned.

The Philippine team acquired the services of a Korean coach Lee Tae Sang who has been training the team for almost two months now.

His presence was definitely a big boost for the team. "We have a new Korean coach. I believe he's very much qualified. He's very knowledgable with the new trend, the new twists in the game. Players are adjusting, adapting to his training methods. We're good," Simpao said.

Alora couldn't agree more. "I think he's a big help. He's giving us pointers every training," she said.

With that, Simpao said the gold is just within their reach.

"We're hoping for it. It's within our reach," he said.