Magnificent Magno overwhelms foe but stays grounded

Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com
Magnificent Magno overwhelms foe but stays grounded
The Philippines' Irish Magno celebrates after winning against Kenya's Christine Ongare at the end of their women's fly (48-51kg) preliminaries boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on July 25, 2021.
Luis Robayo/Pool/AFP

TOKYO – Irish Magno found the range early and connected with bombs after bombs against hapless Kenyan foe Christine Ongare for an overwhelming unanimous decision that sent her to the Round of 16 of the 32nd Olympiad boxing competition here Sunday.

Magno dominated Ongare with accurate shots from her methodical in and out attack, easily winning her first bout to join teammates Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial in the next round.

TRACKER: Team Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics

The 29-year-old Janiuay, Iloilo native provided the show for Team Philippines as Cris Nievarez bowed out of medal contention in men’s single sculls in rowing while shooter Jayson Valdez struggled to keep pace with the world’s best in 10-meter air rifle, finishing 44th out of 47 competitors..

But even with her smashing first-round win, Magno would rather stay low-key and focus on her goal.

“Laban lang fight after fight. Focus lang, huwag muna mag-aim high,” said Magno, facing a big battle in her next fight against Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong.

Magno and Jitpong know each other very well since the Philippine boxing team did its Olympic buildup in Thailand. Team Phl and Team Thai had engaged in a series of dual meets there.

The entire boxing team isn’t about to celebrate yet.

“We are happy and grateful for this good start. Nesthy and Irish showcased their good preparation, determination, and will to win. But the road is long and we all need to hope and pray for continued success,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines president Ricky Vargas.

Petecio returns to the ring at the Kokugikan Arena Monday for her featherweight Round of 16 match with Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-ting. In the same session starting at 11 a.m., Carlo Paalam opens his campaign in the men’s flyweight versus Ireland’s Brendan Irvine.

Team Philippines also figures in two other battlefronts today with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz competing in her fourth Olympics with sights set on another podium finish and skateboarder Margielyn Didal out for a golden performance in the Olympic debut of her discipline.

Didal emerged as a golden girl in the inaugural skateboarding competitions in the 2018 Asian Games and in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

For the second straight day, a Filipina pug made the day for Team Philippines, this time courtesy of Magno in her thorough battering of Ongare that drew a 30-27 verdict from four judges. Bulgarian judge Mariya Kavaklieva even saw it 30-26 for Magno.

“We scouted her opponent two nights ago and developed some tactics. Irish was comfortable with it,” said Don Abnett, Team Philippines’ Australian coach.

Meanwhile, Nievarez was relegated to the classifications after missing a Top Three finish in Heat 4 of the single sculls quarterfinals at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Ranged against powerhouse rowers from Germany, Brazil and Lithuania, Nievarez came in fifth with a clocking of 7:50.74, besting only Iraqi rower Mohammed Al Khafaji.

But for rowing president Patrick Gregorio, Nievarez making the quarters in his first Olympic stint is already an achievement.

“At 21 years old, his performance is beyond expectations. It’s commendable. With better, focused training here and abroad, Cris will really improve. Great potential for this young man,” said Gregorio.

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