David Cea scores against Japanese rivals. (Photo courtesy of Senator Coseteng)
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Southeast Asian Games multi-medalist David Cea missed the golden opportunity of ending the country’s medal drought in the World Taekwondo Championship, dropping a heartbreaking 1-2 decision against No.5 seed Fras Katousi of Tunisia in their tightly fought quarterfinal match in the men’s lightweight class (-74kgs) on Thursday (Friday Manila time) at the Centro Acuatico CODE Metropolitano.
The small SMART/MVP Sports Foundation Philippine delegation which included the head of the delegation in former Senator Anna Dominique ‘Nikkie’ Coseteng was already in a frenzy after the 24-year-old pride of Butuan City took the 1-0 lead in his best-of-three match against a taller rival who stands at 6-foot-5 via 4-2 advantage.
Just two minutes away from the victory that would assure the Filipino a bronze medal, bad breaks struck Cea including a clear hit in the head of his rivals only to be overturned by the officials, allowing the Tunisian giant to grab the lead en route to match victory and tied the score at 1-1.
“Ang hirap umatake, dahil ang haba ng mga paa. Pag pinasok ko sa loob, feeling ko mas lalo siyang makakaiskor. Tama naman yung adjustment ko, yun lang nasingitan tayo,” said Cea.
With coach Caloy Padilla on his side, Cea delivered the final strategy to steal the momentum, but the height advantage of the Tunisian is too much to handle as he totally controls the match denying Cea all the chances to pull off a run.
“We’re almost therre. We’re Just to minutes away from the bronze. Talagang manghihinayang tayo, pero ganyan talaga. Dave proved he deserved a place in the team, talagang ginawa niya ang lahat, pero kinulang lang,” said team manager Rocky Samson.
“Lalong nakakahinayang na natalo lang yung kalaban sa player na sa tingin namin kakayanin ni Dave sa istilo,” added Samson.
Katousi lost his semifinal duel with eventual champion Daniel Quesada of Spain.
It was a promising start for Cea after dominating his first match rival Yasuhiro Hamada of Japan, 2-0; followed by the most cheered duel against Mexican star Rene Lizarraga, 2-1; then he beat Columbian Juan Sebastian, 2-0.
The last Filipino to win a medal in this top-tier tournament was fin weight Roberto Cruz in the 2001 edition in Jeju, South Korea. Cruz also holds the distinction of being the first Filipino to win a silver medal in three consecutive editions from the 1995 meet in Manila.
Cea was the third fighter for the team to miss the medal podium following the loss of Leila Delo in the women’s class and Alfritz Arevalo in the men’s -68kgs.
Next to try is Joseph Chua who starts his bid in the men’s 63ks against Niko Saarinen of Finland and Baby Jessica Canabal against Bulgarian Selen Gunduz in women’s -43kgs on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Tokyo Olympics veteran Kurt Bryan Barbosa closes the Philippine Team campaign here on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) as he faces Sanoh Lancery of the Republic of Guinea. (ai/mtvn)