Rivero earns ticket to 2008 Olympics
- Joey Villar () - November 30, 2007 - 12:00am

Mary Antoinette Rivero will be returning to the Olympics a second straight time.

Rivero, who was the country’s best performer in the 2004 Athens Games, overpowered Iranian Soheila Sayahi, 6-2, in yesterday’s semifinals of the Asian Olympic Qualifier in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to clinch a berth to the 2008 Beijing Games.

“It’s really a welcome development,” said Philippine Olympic Committee chair Robert Aventajado.

Rivero was to meet Kazakshtan’s top jin Nurkina Liya for the gold late last night but Aventajado said they might skip the showdown and prepare the young Filipina jin for the SEA Games unfolding next week in Thailand.

Liya drubbed Japanese 2000 Olympics bronze medalist Yoriko Okamoto, 1-0, in the other semis bout.

“ We’ve accomplished our mission here so we’re thinking of not going through the final and preserve her instead for the SEA Games,” Aventajado said.

  Competing in the minus-67-kilogram class, Rivero defeated Nepal’s Manita Sahi, a 2006 Doha Asian Games bronze medal winner in the 64kg like RP’s Veronica Domingo, before trouncing Sayahi.

Sayahi, who downed Evgeniya Karimova of Uzbekistan on her way to the semis, was a bronze medalist in the Korean Open last year like Rivero.

Two more Filipinos – Kirstie Elaine Alora and Alex Briones –were also chasing an Olympic spot at press time.

Rivero’s feat put her alongside teammate Tshomlee Go, who made it to Beijing with  a superb performance in the World Qualifiers in Manchester, England recently.

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