Fabiola Escobar was unsuccessful in her attempt to qualify for Tokyo 2020 ©Team ESA

Salvadorian taekwondo player Fabiola Escobar has spoken of the experience of being stuck outside of the country for three months following an Olympic qualifier because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Escobar was one of four athletes from El Salvador to compete at the 2020 Pan American Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament in Heredia in Costa Rica in March.

The event was held on March 11 and 12, just as the virus was beginning to spread across the Americas, and restrictions on movement were put into place soon after.

That meant Escobar and her brother Marco, who also competed at the qualifier, ended up being stranded in Managua in Nicaragua for three months.

"It was stressful, that uncertainty of not knowing when we were going to return," Escobar told the Team ESA website.

"We had three attempts, once we were going to come by boat, another by land and the third time by land."

While in Managua, the pair followed a training programme sent to them by the Salvadoran Taekwondo Federation.

Fabiola Escobar has set her sights on the next Olympic cycle ©Getty Images
Fabiola Escobar has set her sights on the next Olympic cycle ©Getty Images

Neither was able to secure a Tokyo 2020 berth in Costa Rica - Marco lost to the United States' Pan American champion Jonathan Healy in the men's over-80-kilogram division and his sister was defeated by Peruvian Eliana Vásquez in the women's under-67kg category.

Escobar won a gold medal at the 2017 Central American Games, held in Managua, and now has eyes on the next edition of the event, due to be held in Santa Tecla, El Salvador in 2021, following a frustrating couple of years.

"One of the things that hurt me the most was the injury that left me out of the Barranquilla 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games and qualifying for the [Lima 2019] Pan American Games," she explained.

Beyond that, Escobar - who is studying for a degree in public relations and marketing at the Evangelical University of El Salvador - has ambitions to spread the benefits of her sport.

"I want to have a company that represents national and international athletes, carry the image and the sponsorship of athletes, even wants to collaborate in spreading taekwondo and the importance of sport to children and parents."