Pauline Lopez vows to bounce back after failing to win SEA Games gold

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KUALA LUMPUR – A painful learning experience.

This was how Pauline Louise Lopez saw her setback in the women’s 62kg division of the 29th Southeast Asian Games taekwondo competition last Sunday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center Hall 1 here.

Fighting in a heavier weight class, Lopez, who copped the 57kg division gold in the 2015 Singapore SEA Games, fell to Veteran Ha Thi Nguyen of Vietnam, 3-4, in the semifinals to settle for bronze in her second SEAG outing.

“My initial reaction was the game is already finished and it won’t get me anywhere if I cry over this,” said the pretty Pinay jin, who also bagged a gold in her regular weight class in the last year’s Asian championships held in Manila.

Using her speed, Lopez connected to the head and body of her lumbering Vietnamese rival “but it was not registering (on the electronic scoreboard). I was hitting her but apparently it wasn’t hard enough. Maybe it just wasn’t my day.”

Being groomed as one of the country’s brightest prospects in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Lopez added that she wasn’t too upset about the defeat “because I want this experience to affect me in a positive way. Now I know better in terms of strategy and technique.”

Currently a sophomore at Ateneo de Manila, Lopez won’t have time to sulk since she is set to compete in the Asian Indoor and Martial Games scheduled Sept. 17 to 27 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

“The opposition will be much tougher in the AIMAG because we will have competitors from Asia. Hopefully, however, I can do better there,” said Lopez, who will be back to her old fighting weight in the continental sports showcase.