It was like a scene straight out of a sports movie.
Taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa was behind on points the whole match against hometown bet Zaid Alhalawani.
Trailing by as much as 15 points in the match and down by 5 in the last 12 seconds, Barbosa pulled off a miracle, delivering three clean kicks against Alhalawani in the semi finals last May 22 of the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Amman, Jordan.
By yanking victory from the jaws of defeat, Barbosa clinched his spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Now resting in his hometown of Bangued, Abra in preparation for the Olympics, he’s still surprised that he overcame such a wide deficit, noting that it was the first time he pulled off a win of that drama and magnitude.
“Di ko napigilan sigaw ko noon, di ko maexplain saya ko noon kase lahat tayo nagulat sobrang tambak na tapos biglang ganoon, hanggang ngayon di parin ako makamove on na sa coming from behind na win”, Barbosa said.
(I couldn’t help but scream. I can’t explain the happiness I felt because I was surprised to come back from that big a deficit. Until now I can’t believe I came back.)
Considering that Barbosa has only been a member of the Taekwondo national team since 2019, this has been quite the achievement in his young career.
His journey began in Abra where he started at six years old and, despite stopping for a while in his early teens, led to him being recruited by National University and winning rookie-MVP honors in 2018.
Barbosa has since won gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and in preparation for the Olympics, trained in Bangued, Abra.
He says that training in Bangued was not as difficult as it could have been as he had access to the gym every day.
His fitness, particularly his weight, was checked constantly and he was able to train alone in the gym in Bangued and it also helped that he was near his family and his friends.
When asked how he might help to make the sport of taekwondo grow even further in the Philippines, Barbosa acknowledged as a young player of the national team that he is just a follower when it comes to drawing more attention to the sport.
He did say however that he wants to share his story.
“Ang plano ko is ishare journey ko na mainspire and mamotivate sila. Kase di biro talaga yung pinagdaanan, hindi siya madali.”
(I plan to share the story of my journey that it may inspire and motivate future taekwondo players because it’s no joke what I went through. It wasn’t easy.)
When asked what his message is to Filipino fans, he is thankful for all the support from all the agencies and fans who helped him in his journey to get to the Olympics.
“Sana wag kayong magsawang suportahan at gabayan kami sa lahat ng dasal niyo. Hindi namin kaya pag wala kayo”
(I hope you won’t get tired of supporting us and praying for us. We can’t handle the Olympics without you).