EVEN the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) is turning to the internet to keep its athletes busy during the coronavirus pandemic.
Top taekwondo stars, led by Pauline Lopez and Kurt Barbosa, are now doing it thru virtual competitions and online training conducted by the PTA coaches to stay in shape for the Olympic qualifying meets re-scheduled next year.
“Just like other sports, we try to use the internet for virtual tournament and online training," said 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medalist and PTA deputy secretary-general Stephen Fernandez during the “Usapang Sports’ by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom last Thursday.
“We want to keep our athletes and coaches physically and mentally prepared under the new normal in sports,”added Fernandez, who also served as deputy chef de mission of the Philippines in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
One of PTA's innovations during the coronavirus lockdown is the staging of the first World Speed Kicking Championships.
“This is a unique competition created by the PTA because of the pandemic. First in the Philippines ito. Nag-evolve lang ang PTA to adapt to the situation we have right now," explained Fernandez during the forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and PAGCOR.
“Actually, nabuo ito dahil sa mga online championship. Nag comment yun mga sparring players na paano naman sila kaya nag form ng commitee ang PTA kung paano pwedeng gawin. Kaya nabuo itong speed kicking tournament. Sabi nga, may ibang opportunities kahit pa may pandemic," explained Fernandez.
Fernandez, also the sports director in the College of St. Benilde, said around 250 participants are expected to join the speed kicking tournament scheduled this month.
“We don't know the exact number of participants, but there are also different weight categories. We are doing it to motivate our athletes."
Fernandez admitted the first three months of the pandemic were very difficult even to the taekwondo community.
But he said the taekwondo community stayed united and worked together to stay alive.
He claimed the PTA did its best to provide assistance to affected members of the taekwondo community, including coaches and trainers.
“Hindi naman malaking halaga, pero kahit pa-paano ay nabahagihan namin sila ng tulong.”