The National, Wednesday August 08th, 2012
TAEKWONDO’S Theresa Tona will be the last Papua New Guinean athlete to brace the Olympic stage when she fights in the women’s 49kg division today.
After watching the rest of her fellow PNG athletes compete over the past 11 days, Tona will now have the country’s attention on her as she takes on No.8-ranked Erika Kasahara of Japan in the preliminary round.
With 16 fighters in the competition, Tona, who is ranked No.9, received a favourable draw, taking on the lowest ranked fighter of the top eight.
Taekwondo PNG president Ower Ila said Tona’s coach Andy Rutten was happy with the draw, describing it as “the best draw she could have expected”.
“Winning that first fight is the most important goal right now for Theresa and since the draws came out yesterday Andy is putting together a great game plan but the rest is really up to Theresa. She has to perform out there,” Ila said.
If the 21-year-old beats Kasahara, she will face the No.1 seed China’s Jingyu Wu, who is expected to overcome 16th seed Elizabeth Gordillo of Guatemala.
If Tona loses to Wu she would still have another chance to fight for a bronze medal through the repecharge round.
“Theresa will still have a chance in the second round as long as she gets past the Japanese girl. She will take on the best fighter in the division (Wu) so that will allow her to enter the repecharge stage.”
Ila stressed that Tona had the physical ability to advance but in the competition but needed to be mentally switched on to make the most of her chances. Tona fights Kasahara at 7pm today.