Barbosa faces tournament favorite in opening taekwondo match

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Philippine Taekwondo team led by jin Kurt Barbosa at the Tokyo Olympics. 📷 carlospadillav via PTA Facebook

TOKYO—Kurt Barbosa needed a huge rally to book an Olympic slot in a qualifying tournament earlier this year.

He will need the same fighting spirit right in his very first bout in Tokyo.

Barbosa, ranked 16th, faces top seed Jang Jun of Korea in the men’s taekwondo -58kg division at Makuhari Messe Hall A on Friday.

PROFILE: Taekwondo's Kurt Barbosa

PROFILE: Taekwondo’s Kurt Barbosa

Jang ruled the division in the world championships in 2019 and is heavily touted to run away in the gold here.

But Barbosa has proven to rise when the odds are against him.

Trailing by double digits in the last round during the qualifiers in Jordan, Barbosa launched a furious last-ditch rally and escaped with a dramatic 50-49 victory over hometown bet Zaid Al-Halawani.

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