After a star of an emerging sport in the country by the name of volleyball, Alyssa Valdez, follows an Olympian as the Philippines’ flagbearer for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo will carry the tricolor in the opening ceremonies on August 19 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium. “At first, I can’t believed it, kasi I doubted myself [if] I deserved it ba or no [sic],” she said.
“Pero yun na ring mga teammates ko, mga coaches ko, family ko, they told me na dahil na rin sa mga achievements ko sa taekwondo [kaya ko napili.]”
The two-time Asian Games bronze medalist therefore looks at this nomination as added motivation. She noted, “This thing is s big factor rin to strive harder sa training to produce a medal in this coming SEA Games.”
The former College of Saint Benilde standout also considers it as a chance to prove herself worthy of such honor.
“It is not easy, but I will try hard to deserve it.”
Alora’s choice also came in as an added morale-booster for one of the sports considered as a medal hope for Team Philippines. Pauline Lopez shared that even after Alora’s return from the Rio Olympics, the taekwondo jins were inspired to train harder.
The 2013 SEA Games gold medalist in the women’s +73 kg recalled, “When I came back from the Olympics, I returned to the gym to train harder. Hindi yung dating ako, dapat ibang Elaine yung bumalik sa gym.”
Alora believes that “nahatak ko sila and good factor yun na lagi kaming high morale sa gym.”
Going into the SEA Games, the 27-year old is ready for the competition. “I am very much confident naman, kasi I prepared very hard din naman.” She also hopes to show the better and stronger version of herself on the mat come August.
“I will just perform my part. I think naman every game lagi kang dapat ‘I am ready for learning’ sa mga other competitions ko. So this time, maybe I will be more aggressive talaga,” she said.
Alora is once again looking at Asian Games champion, Cambodian Sorn Seamvy, as the player to beat, but also feels everyone is a threat. “Lahat naman ng mga makakalaban ko, well-prepared din. So, magkakatalo na lang how we will fight for ourselves and how eager we are to win the gold medal.”
Incidentally, it will be the second straight instance the taekwondo jin will be carrying the Philippine flag in a multi-sport event, after doing so in the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics in lieu of Ian Lariba.
Alora will be competing in the women’s -73 kg on August 29 at KLCC Hall 1.