SEA Games 2023

Taekwondo quartet powers late SEA Games gold surge

Delfin Dioquino

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Taekwondo quartet powers late SEA Games gold surge

CHAMPIONS. (From left) Arven Alcantara, Kurt Barbosa, Kirstie Alora, and Samuel Morrison deliver for the Philippines' gold-medal push.

Delfin Dioquino/Rappler

Taekwondo aces Samuel Morrison, Kirstie Alora, Kurt Barbosa, and Arven Alcantara bag a gold each for the Philippines

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Taekwondo standouts Samuel Morrison, Kirstie Alora, Kurt Barbosa, and Arven Alcantara saved the best for last on a day gold medals seemed scarce for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games.

The quartet powered a late surge for the country after winning a gold each in their respective events at the Chroy Changvar Convention Center here on Saturday, May 13. 

Morrison captured his fourth gold overall, ruling the men’s -87kg class following a nail-biting 2-1 win over Indonesia’s Nicholas Armanto in his SEA Games swan song as he retires from competitive taekwondo this year to focus on his family. 

It was redemption for the 33-year-old Morrison, whose SEA Games gold streak got snapped when he settled for bronze in Vietnam last year.

Also planning to retire from the national team, Alora ended a decade-long SEA Games gold drought when she topped the women’s -73kg division with a 2-1 finals victory over Vietnam’s Thi Huong Nguyen.

The 33-year-old Alora, who owns four SEA Games gold like Morrison, last reigned in 2013 before she endured runner-up finishes in 2017, 2019, and 2021. 

The Olympian Barbosa sustained his dominance in the men’s -54kg and bagged a third straight SEA Games crown after beating Thailand’s Ramnarong Sawekwiharee, 2-0, in the finale.

Meanwhile, Arven Alcantara proved persistence pays off as he finally struck gold in his fourth SEA Games try after lording over the men’s -68kg division, claiming Thailand’s Chaichon Cho as his last victim with a 2-0 win.

Taekwondo has been a gold mine for the Philippines, with the poomsae team delivering a pair of golds a day prior. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.