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Barbosa has tools to win medal in Tokyo

Kurt Bryan Barbosa has a wide array of moves on the mat that comes with a big fighting heart. But what could win him a medal in the coming Olympics is his excellent disposition.

That assessment comes from two-time Olympian Stephen Fernandez, who helped pave the way for Filipino jins in the Games after winning a bronze in the 1992 edition when taekwondo was held as a demonstration sport.

“He’s got an excellent disposition during matches, he focuses well on his opponent, but at the same time he can work on the crowd to cheer him on,” said Fernandez.

Barbosa’s dogged determination was in full display after he rallied from a huge 41-28 deficit to hack out a 50-49 victory over hometown bet Zaid Al Halawani of Jordan during the Asian Olympic qualifying over the weekend to nail the Tokyo berth.

“[Qualifying] means that despite everything that’s happening to us, all the struggles, hindrances and problems, we don’t give up chasing our dreams,” said Barbosa in a Facebook post.

The University Athletic Association of the Philippines Rookie-MVP from National University is a product of the Philippine Taekwondo Association’s grassroots program. He was discovered during the Philippine National Games while fighting for the province of Abra.

The 21-year-old Barbosa, fighting in -58-kilogram division, will be the first male Filipino jin to make the Games since Tshomlee Go in the 2008 edition in Beijing.

“I think he’s got what it takes to win a medal, even the gold,” said Fernandez. “[He] is our strongest chance yet.”

For the second straight Olympics, the country will be betting on a single jin after Kirstie Alora in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Meanwhile, sportsman Mikee Romero lauded the provincial government of Bataan province for donating a huge chunk of land where the proposed Philippine Sports Training Center (PSTC) will be built.

Romero, who owns NorthPort in the Philippine Basketball Association, said the creation of the PSTC is a landmark sports project that will do a lot of good for Philippine bets.

The complex will cost around P3.5 billion and will be done in 3-4 years as Romero is batting to have Congress help fund the project. INQ

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