The Philippine taekwondo team took a big blow in its 17th Asian Games campaign with the sudden withdrawal of Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jade Zafra due to injury.
The 5-foot-10 Zafra, a former University of Santo Tomas standout, suffered a right knee torn ligament while training with fellow national athletes recently.
“It’s very unfortunate that this happened to me with the Asian Games only one month away,” said Zafra, who won the gold in the featherweight class at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games.
The Philippine Taekwondo Association has yet to name Zafra’s replacement, although the composition of the PH delegation has already been submitted to the Asian Games organizing committee last Friday.
This year’s Asiad is slated in Incheon, South Korea on Sept. 19 to Oct. 4.
Zafra was supposed to join Asiad qualifiers Japoy Lizardo, Francis Agojo, Benjamin Sembrano, Samuel Morrison, Christian Dela Cruz, Kristopher Uy, Mary Anjelay Pelaez, Levita Ilao, Pauline Lopez, Jane Narra and Elaine Alora.
A veteran of numerous international stints, Zafra won silver in the recent University Games in Korea and competed in the 2013 World Taekwondo Championships in Mexico.
The Asiad-bound jins, along with 20 junior athletes, trained for two weeks in South Korea recently where they also competed in several local tournaments there.
They are hoping to surpass their four-bronze medal haul at the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad. At the 2006 Doha edition, the PH jins brought home two silver and three bronze medals.