//Olympics 2024
Nesthy Petecio

Second Time Around: Nesthy Petecio Shoots For Olympic Glory

Denied a gold medal in Tokyo, the Filipino boxer is hoping to grab it this time in Paris. But it won’t be easy.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was a watershed moment for Philippine sports. It marked the first time that the country had multiple medalists in one event after the boxing team took home two silvers and one bronze courtesy of Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial.

Petecio and Paalam both reached the gold medal match in their respective weight divisions, only to fall short against their foes. But between the two, it was Petecio who felt she had done enough to snare that elusive gold.

Paalam suffered a knockdown in the first round of his men’s flyweight division (52kg) bout against Great Britain’s Galal Yafai, who is now a promising unbeaten professional. Paalam fought gallantly the rest of the way, but in the end there was no doubt that Yafai deserved the judges’ nod.

It was a different story for Petecio, who lost a competitive unanimous decision to hometown bet Sena Irie in the women’s featherweight (57kg) division. Both fighters split the first two rounds on the judges’ scorecards, but Irie eked out the close win in the third and final round. The final tally was 5-0, which did not reflect the competitiveness of the fight.

Japan’s IRIE Sena reacts after winning the Women’s Feather (54-57kg) Final Bout of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games against Philippines’ PETECIO Nesthy at Kokugikan in Tokyo on Aug. 3, 2021.( The Yomiuri Shimbun ) (Photo by Kazuki Wakasugi / Yomiuri / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP)

Now, Petecio is back to take care of unfinished business in Paris 2024. She’s still competing at 57kg, only this time, her Tokyo tormentor Irie is no longer around.

Still, even with the Japanese fighter, who decided to retire at the age of just 22, out of the equation, Petecio hardly considers herself the gold medal favorite.

Actually, lahat ng nasa Tokyo, nandoon pa rin,” Petecio told the media at the weekly PSA Forum on Tuesday. “Si Sena lang ang nawala. Lahat sila malalakas.”

Petecio says it would be foolish to assume that just because she, Paalam and Marcial medaled in Tokyo that they would automatically be the favorites in Paris. For one thing, it was difficult to scout the opposition in the lead up to Tokyo because of the pandemic. Now, everything is out in the open again.

Lalong hindi madali iyong pagdadaanan ko ngayon sa Paris, especially na iba siya kaysa sa Tokyo,” she admitted. “Ngayon kasi, open na. Hindi ito basta-basta na kagaya ng iniisip ng iba na kesyo medalist na kaming tatlo, at wala na si Sena, ako na ang mag-gogold. Hindi ganun kadali iyon.”

Petecio said she has her eye on three boxers. They are Karina Igrabimova of Kazakhstan, siIver medalist at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, Irma Testa of Italy whom she beat in the semifinals in Tokyo, and Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei, whom she beat in the last 16 in Tokyo but who beat her in Hangzhou.

Iba na ang level ngayon ng mga boxers. Kung may pinakamaliit na butas ng karayom na dadaanan ko, mas liliit pa siya ngayon.

The other boxers in her division, though, have been eager to size her up, a sure sign that Petecio is viewed by the competition as a major threat. While in Thailand to accompany the Philippine delegation to the second and last Olympic qualifiers last month, Petecio revealed that she received several requests for sparring sessions.

She wisely declined.

Nung nasa Thailand kami, lahat sila gusto akong maka-sparring,” she said. “Ayoko. Alam kong pinag-aaralan nila ang galaw ko. Hindi ko nilabas ang totoong laro ko. Siyempre, may kani-kaniyang video. Kaya umiiwas ako sa mga nasa timbang ko, sa 57.”

But although she didn’t spar with the others, Petecio didn’t exactly leave Thailand unscathed. A previous eye injury resurfaced and gave her problems.

Hanggang ngayon, pabalik-balik siya,” she revealed. “Actually, sa Thailand, bumalik siya. Actually, ang daming gamot na pinapatak ko ngayon. Apat na gamot ang lagi kong nilalagay sa mata ko. Ang laki ng punit niya ngayon. Pag-uwi ko nga galing Thailand, sabi ko parang ako pa ang nakipag-basagan ng mukha.”

The team will fly to Metz, France on June 22 to check in at the Philippine delegation’s training camp before heading over to Saarbrücken, Germany for a multinational training camp with other Olympic boxers from the United States, Australia, India, Thailand, Cuba, and Mongolia.

Nesthy Petecio knows her country is banking on her plus Paalam and Marcial to bring home a gold, and while she welcomes the pressure, she also knows this time it won’t be as easy being a marked competitor.

“Yung salitang second time sa Olympics nakaka-pressure. Totoo talaga yan. Hindi po ganoon kadali yung pinagdaanan ko kasi ang dami kong injuries.

Iyon na ang pinaka-peak ng career namin. Kapag nakuha ko ito, mas magiging easy na kasi sobrang daming opportunity dito.”

Banner image from the POC.

Medal-Worthy Threads: Check Out The Philippines’ Paris Olympics Team Kits!

Subtle Trends: A Deeper Look Into the Philippines’ Paris Olympics Delegation 

Paris-Bound: The Filipino Athletes Qualified For The 2024 Olympics