PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FOR Robert Aventajado, the country’s taekwondo chief, an early collision with the top favorites in the Beijing Olympics would serve the Filipino jins in good stead.
“Maganda nga makasama na nila sa bracket para magka-alaman na,” were Aventajado’s bold words just a week before the Olympic Games formally unfurl in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
“Ayoko kasing sabihin na during the drawing of lots, sana wala sa bracket natin `yung mga top guns. Laban na kung laban.”
That only shows the kind of confidence the former car rallye champion and current Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman had on taekwondo jins Antoinette Rivero and Tshomlee Go, easily two of Team Philippines’ best bets for a first ever gold medal in the quadrennial meet.
“Palagay ko prepared na silang manalo. With the training that they had in Korea, I would say napakaganda ng chance nila,” added Aventajado, seated beside Go and Rivero in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Shakey’s U.N Avenue branch.
In the case of the 20-year-old Rivero, who fell just a little short of a medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, facing reigning world champion Hwang Kyung-Sun (bronze medalist in Athens) is inevitable.
“Whether it’s in the early part or later on in the day Toni will have to beat this Korean. She has to demolish her because Toni wants to win the gold,” said Aventajado.
Rivero, a first-year Inter-disciplinary student at Ateneo, is competing in the middleweight class (-67 kgs).
Go, meanwhile, is fighting in the flyweight division (-57 kgs).
“I’ve always told them that just to compete in the Olympics is something but to win a medal for the country is something else. They have worked hard for this,” said Aventajado.
“We have prepared Tshomlee and Toni to win medals ?” of any color. They are prepared to win,” added Aventajado in the session sponsored by Shakey’s, Accel, Brickroad gym and Aspen spa and MedCentral Clinic and Diagnostic Center.
Aventajado also announced that Petron, their benefactor, has pledged P1 million for the gold, P600,000 for the silver and P300,000 for the bronze.
The offer, however, is only good for taekwondo.
Aventajado said Go has been practicing taekwondo since he was seven, and Rivero since she was four. And it’s just about time that they reap the dividends of all the hard work.
He added that Go and Rivero have trained so hard not even the possibility of faulty officiating gives them reason to worry.
“We’re not worrying about any problems with the officiating. Whatever the obstacles are we are ready to face,” said Aventajado.