Kurt Barbosa wins another gold for PH taekwondo jins

Kurt Barbosa won another gold for the taekwondo jins. Ernie Sarmiento/ESPN5

Kurt Barbosa added another gold to Philippine taekwondo's impressive medal tally in the 30th Southeast Asian Games as he dominated the -54kg category Monday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Barbosa clinched the Philippines' eighth gold medal in taekwondo with a decisive 26-10 victory over Reinaldy Atmanegara of Indonesia. The 20-year-old jin also dominated his way to the finals with a 58-6 win over Vietnam's Doc Anh Hoang in the semis.

"I really prepared well for my fights in the semis and finals," Barbosa said in Filipino. "I already faced them before so I really prepared for them. I know they were also ready so I knew I had to be more prepared.

"There was pressure in my fight because this is my first time in the SEA games, but I did my best for the country."

Barbosa, a former rookie MVP and a champion in the collegiate ranks, showed no fear throughout the competition and particularly against his opponent in the gold medal bout. He raced to a 12-3 lead after the opening round that set the tone for the rest of the match.

"When the score was 12-3, I still applied continuous pressure," said Barbosa. "I didn't look at the score, I just enjoyed the match until it was over."

Barbosa nabbed the country's lone gold medal as Rheza Aragon settled for silver in the -49kg (fly) division. Thailand's Panipak Wongpattanakit got the better of the Filipina jin, 35-2. It was a tough defeat for Aragon who hardly broke a sweat in her semifinal matchup as she bested Rosa Luisa Dos Santos of Timor Leste, 43-0.

Settling for bronze were Veronica Garces, Dex Ian Chavez, Kurt Pajuelas, and Baby Jessica Canabal.

Garces lost in her semifinals in the -46kg (fin) as Thailand's Julanan Khantikulanon got the 13-8 victory.

In the -58kg (fly) division, Chavez lost 11-37 Ramnarong Sawekwiharee also of Thailand.

Pajuelas didn't get past his opponent in -63kg (bantam) category with Malaysia's Hakim Iman Rakib coming away with a 21-12 win.

Baby Jessica Canabal, meanwhile, failed to score a point in the semifinals of the -53kg (bantam), losing 0-6 versus Indonesia's Mariska Halinda.

After a gold, a silver, and four bronzes in the second day of the Kyorugi competitions, Philippine taekwondo secured a total of eight golds, nine silvers, and four bronze medals in this edition of the biennial meet. After a successful medal haul, the team will aim for new heights to climb.

"My goal and the goal of everyone in Philippine taekwondo is to make it into the Olympics," said Barbosa.

The team's medal haul in the 2019 games was a complete turnaround from its 2017 output of two golds, three silvers, and four bronzes.