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Furious semis comeback earns Kurt Barbosa Olympic spot

Kurt Barbosa booked his place in the Tokyo Olympics with a comeback semifinal win.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--With one huge rally late in Round 3, Kurt Barbosa found his way to Tokyo.

The former UAAP rookie MVP delivered a furious comeback to stun hometown favorite Zaid Al-Halawani, 50-49, in the under-58 kilogram semifinals of the Asian Olympic qualifiers for taekwondo in Amman on Saturday.

Barbosa let a solid start that saw him leading, 14-11, after Round 1 slip away as a dominant second round from Al-Halawani pushed him ahead, 28-24, entering Round 3.

Al-Halawani looked to pull away as he stretched his lead to 15, 41-26 lead with 1:22 to go.

However, Barbosa slowly came back and cut the lead down to four, 48-44, with 21 seconds left.

Al-Halawani thought he found breathing room after a Barbosa foul put him back up by five, 49-44, with 12 seconds remaining

But three straight two-point hits pushed Barbosa up front with only two seconds remaining, and Al-Halawani failed to answer as time expired.

Barbosa ran to his team in celebration as he became the ninth Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics this July.

Barbosa will vie for the tournament gold against Thai rival Ramnarong Sawekwiharee.

Sawekwiharee also booked a spot in the Tokyo Olympics after ousting Pakistan's Haroon Khan in their own semifinal duel, 32-26.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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