Tokyo—Crazy as it may sound, Nesthy Petecio shoots for the Philippines’ second gold in a Filipino Summer Olympic Games’ campaign that is both strange and intoxicating at the same time.
After Hidilyn Diaz delivered the Philippines’ first-ever gold in the 97-year history of the games, Petecio aims for a second one and a share of immortality when she battles Japan’s Sena Irie, a possibility that would have been unthinkable two weeks ago.
The 29-year-old Petecio will be facing at 12:05 p.m. (Philippine time) a 20-year-old Irie, who won’t have the edge of a hometown crowd backing her as fans are barred from all competitions to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in these pandemic Olympics.
Earlier at 10:15 a.m. (Philippine time), Carlo Paalam takes on an equally daunting challenge as he faces Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the men’s flyweight quarterfinals, hoping to land the country’s third boxing medal and the fourth overall.
Eumir Felix Marcial, who secured a bronze medal last Sunday, will face Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine in the men’s middleweight semis on Thursday at 2:03 p.m. (Philippine time)
“This means a lot to me, it’s my dream and my father’s, too,” said Petecio, whose father Teodoro toils a small piece of land, while her mother Prescilla tends to the family.
“A victory will not only be for me but for my family, and to all Filipinos who pray for me,” added Petecio, who assembled four victories in these Olympics where the boxing competitions are supervised by a special International Olympic Committee body and not the controversy-marred International Boxing Association or AIBA.
Petecio had a rousing Olympic debut by overwhelming Congo’s Marcelat Sakobi Matshu, 5-0, before eradicating Olympic top seed and world No. 1, the tall and lanky Lin Yu-Ting with a close 3-2 score.
But the road to glory wasn’t paved from there. After hurdling Colombian Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda, Petecio faced her toughest foe yet as the 5’2” champion of the 2019 AIBA World Championships again had to contend with an opponent six inches taller than she is.
After a stagnant first-round performance, Petecio came through with an electrifying final two against Italy’s Irma Testa to advance to the gold-medal round with a 4-1 win that assured the Philippines of a silver medal.
This marked the first time in 25 years that the Philippines earned silver in Olympic boxing since Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco settled for a runner-up finish at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics.
“I’ll go for the gold with everything I’ve got, and I know that if I follow my coaches, I won’t go wrong. Isa po sila sa dahilan kung bakit ako nandito ngayon, palagi po sila nakakalimutan, kaya inaalay ko po sa kanila ang panalo kong ito at ang laban ko sa finals,” said Petecio, referring to coaches Nolito “Boy” Velasco as well as Australian Consultant Don Abnett, Ronald Chavez, Reynaldo Galido and Elmer Pamisa, again deflecting credit for her accomplishment.
This alone deserves gold.