Kurt Barbosa’s hopes for an Olympic bronze medal came to an end after his opening round foe, top seed Jang Jun of South Korea, failed to clinch a men’s taekwondo final berth on Saturday, July 24 at the Makuhari Messe Hall.
Though Barbosa fell to Jang in the first round, he had a chance of advancing to the repechage bouts of the men’s -58kg event later Saturday – where he could still secure a podium finish – had the Korean advanced.
But Jang suffered an upset loss, 19-25, to No. 12 seed Tunisia’s Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi in the semifinal.
Despite not moving into the further rounds of the Tokyo Olympics, Barbosa remains grateful for the opportunity to don the Philippine colors in the world’s biggest stage.
Jendoubi was on fire right in the opening round as Jang had to rally back to tie the score at 5-5 at the end of the first round.
But with momentum on the Tunisian’s side, Jendoubi had the advantage throughout the bout.
In the last 25 seconds of the third round, a video replay was called to decide if Jang will receive a red for grabbing.
But despite the stoppage, Jendoubi still pulled away to end the South Korean’s Olympic gold dream.
Barbosa, a 22-year-old from Bangued, Abra, was the first Filipino to be eliminated from the quadrennial meet and is slated to pack his bags and make his way home within two days according to the protocols.
He clinched a Tokyo 2020 Olympics berth in stunning fashion as he beat the Asian qualifiers’ No. 2 seed, rallying from a 15-point deficit.
Barbosa is riding on the momentum of his 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medal win before the COVID-19 pandemic put the world of sports into a standstill.