How Westbrook fueled Taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa’s Olympic bid

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TAEKWONDO jin Kurt Barbosa is a self-proclaimed Russell Westbrook fan.

No wonder he used Westbrook’s hugely popular slogan “Why not?” As a hashtag in pursuit of his dream of competing in the Olympics.

Barbosa said he started using the currency two years ago when he visited Korea and had his photo taken at the World Peace Gate in Seoul Olympic Park, which has hosted the 1988 Summer Games.

The photo that Barbosa posted on her Instagram account on October 27, 2019 had the caption “Step by step, my dream will come true”. Followed by a prayer emoji and the #whynot.

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The message turned out to be prophetic as two years later, the UAAP’s Rookie-MVP from the National University booked a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics and became the first Filipino male jin to participate in the quadrennial meet. after Tshomlee Go did it back to back in 2004 (Athens) and 2008 (Beijing), respectively.

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“Yung hastag ‘why’, yun nga ‘bakit hindi’ in Tagalog. Idol ko si Westbrook, eh. Yung time na nagti-triple double siya, sobrang lakas niya. Nanonood ako palagi, pina-follow ko siya. Tapos can mga hashtag siyang ‘WhyNot’ so doon ko yun talaga nagaya, ”said Barbosa, who incidentally is a Los Angeles Lakers fan.

Westbrook’s now popular catchphrase dates back to his time at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif., Which the Washington Wizards star and his best friend used to preach as a way to do whatever they thought about.

The motto eventually grew that the player who now has the most triple-doubles in NBA history created the Russel Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, which aims to inspire the lives of children and teach them to never give up.

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He even spawned a Pourquoi pas? Zer0.4 signature shoe under the Jordan brand.

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As for the Olympic Park, Barbosa recalled that he and his national teammates had to put up with the long journey just to be able to take pictures of them at the famous tourist spot.

“Byinahe talaga namin yun. Ang layo ng nilakad namin para makapagpa-picture lang doon, ”said Barbosa, who also plays basketball himself.

Standing at 5ft 7in, Barbosa knew he had the talent to play ball, along with Sepak Takraw, while growing up in his Bangued province, Abra.

But his parents pushed him to focus on taekwondo, knowing that their son’s future is in sports.

“Pinigilan lang ako ng mga magulang ko. Sabi nila yung taekwondo ang focus mo kasi doon tayo maakaka-apak ng Olympics, ”said Barbosa.

His parents were always right.

In 2018 he was named Rookie-MVP in the UAAP taekwondo event and a year later won a gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Manila.

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At the recent Asian qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan, Barbosa saved the day for the Philippine taekwondo team when he rallied in the final 12 seconds to beat local bet Zaid Alhalawani and land a ticket to the Tokyo Games.

“I still can’t believe the Olympic Games in talaga na nakapasok na ako sa,” said the ninth Filipino athlete to win a ticket to Tokyo. “Sobrang happy ko dahil yung pinaghirapan mo, nagbunga naman.”

Why not?
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