//Olympics 2024

Girl Power: Nesthy Petecio, Aira Villegas Punch Their Way To Paris Olympics

On International Women’s Month, two Filipina boxers became the latest Paris Olympians following scintillating runs in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

The Philippines has added two more athletes to its roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics after boxers Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas qualified early Tuesday morning (Manila time) in the 1st World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

Petecio earned an Olympic quota slot in the women’s 57kg division while Villegas booked hers in the women’s 50kg division. They join fellow boxer Eumir Marcial, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena in Paris.

“I am so blessed. This is very important for me because maybe this is my last Olympics,” said Petecio as quoted in an article in the official Olympics website olympic.org.

“I got this ticket for so many people, especially my family, to God, and for our former President who died, and for my partner in life. Before (the tournament), I promised her that I would win the ticket to Paris and finally this is it! I’m so happy.

“I will not stop until I get the Olympic gold medal.”

Petecio defeated Esra Yildiz Kahraman of Turkiye via a 4-1 split decision in their semifinal bout to book one of the two Olympic quota slots up for grabs. Villegas, meanwhile, beat Zlatislava Chukanova of Bulgaria by unanimous decision in their quarterfinal clash. Four slots were contested in Villegas’ division, so she only needed to make the semifinals.

Petecio will become the first female boxer from the Philippines to compete in two Olympic Games. She was a silver medalist in Tokyo 2020.

Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas entered the qualifying tournament in fine form, having won gold medals in the Boxam Elite Tournament in Alicante, Spain early last month.

The other Filipino boxers – Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon, John Marvin, Ronald Chavez, Jr., and Mark Fajardo in the men’s division and Riza Pasuit, Claudine Veloso, and Hergie Bacyadan in the women’s division – all fell short of booking their Olympic tickets. They will get one last chance in the 2nd World Qualification Tournament to be held in Bangkok in May.

Boxing has produced the most number of Olympic medals for the Philippines with eight – four silvers and four bronzes. In Tokyo, boxers brought home two silvers courtesy of Petecio and Paalam and one bronze from Marcial.

If Petecio can carry over the form she showed in Italy to Paris – she halted her first opponent, swept her next three via similar 5-0 records, and registered a comfortable 4-1 win in the semifinals – then hopes are high for the Philippines finally winning an Olympic gold in boxing.

Banner image from ABAP c/o Marcus Jarwin Manalo.

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