Pauline Lopez ascended back to the throne after clinching the gold medal in the taekwondo competition of the 30th Southeast Asian Games yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
The comely jin clobbered Aliza Chhooueng of Cambodia, 12-4, in the finals of the women’s -57kg division to regain the crown she lost in the Kuala Lumpur edition of the Games in 2017 when she decided to compete in a higher weight category.
Lopez, an Asian Games bronze medalist, jumped the gun early and established a 4-0 lead in the first round.
She opened the second round with a beautiful head kick for a 7-2 lead before closing the battle with a roundhouse kick to seal the gold medal.
Prior the finals, Lopez, who sees collegiate action for Ateneo de Manila University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, dominated Siripornpermsak Vipawan of Thailand, 18-1, in the semifinals.
This was only the second time for Lopez to fight in front of the home crowd after clinching the gold medal in the 2016 Asian Taekwondo Championships.
“My parents were watching for the first time in 10 years. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I know they prayed hard for my success,” said the 23-year-old Lopez.
“I am truly overwhelmed by the cheers of our countrymen. It’s really nice to play in your hometown. It was so inspiring.”
Meanwhile, Dave Cea’s 10-5 victory over Thailand’s Nutthawee Klompong in the men’s -74kg class earned the home squad its second gold medal of the day.
Then, Samuel Morrison added to the golden haul after winning over Abdullah Josulhua Amirul of Malaysia, 30-8, in the finals of the men’s -80 kg.
The Philippines’ second place finishes came courtesy of Arven Alcantara (men’s lightweight), Laila Delo (women’s welterweight), Kirstie Elaine Alora (women’s heavyweight), and Khristopher Uy (men’s heavyweight).