Nesthy on a mission

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

Olympic womens boxing qualifier Nesthy Petecio is used to bouncing back from disappointment. Her career has been marked by ups and downs but to Petecios credit, shes not the type to sulk or wallow in self-pity when faced with adversity. Take, for instance, her Southeast Asian (SEA) Games history. At the 2011, 2013 and 2015 SEA Games, Petecio couldnt crack the golden jinx and settled for silver thrice in a row. Then, in the 2019 edition, she finally broke through to strike gold. It was the same story at the AIBA World Championships. In 2014, she took silver but five years later, hit paydirt.

In March last year, Petecio was expected to book an Olympic ticket at the Asia/Oceania qualifiers in Amman, Jordan. But Lady Luck looked the other way as she crashed out of contention in the quarterfinals, losing to Japans Sena Irie via a 4-1 decision. Petecio was the top seed in the qualifiers so the defeat to Irie, whom she had outpointed at the 2019 World Championships, was particularly painful. The Davao del Sur featherweight was lined up to battle in the world qualifiers in Paris this month but the tournament was scrapped, leaving the IOC Task Force to allocate the remaining 53 slots to the highest-ranked boxers by continent in each division. This time, Lady Luck smiled on Petecio as she was awarded the continental quota ticket for Asia. If the trend in her journey continues, shes due for an outstanding performance in Tokyo coming from the failure in Amman.

Petecio said she never looks back and just focuses on what lies ahead. “Para akong kabayo na may blinders,” she said in an interview to be shown in a coming episode of the online sports show “PlayItRightTV.” Whats on her mind isnt her past record but the performance she must deliver to win gold in Tokyo. Its also the reason why she doesnt watch videos of her possible opponents, preferring to leave the scouting job to her ABAP coaches Nolito (Boy) Velasco and Rey Galido.

Petecio has been holed up in training camp in Thailand the last three months. Its been a grueling grind of drills, sparring and keeping within the featherweight limit of 57 kilograms. More than anything, she pointed to COVID-19 as the scariest element in preparing for the Olympics. If anyone tests positive from the boxing team, it will mean isolation and outright elimination from the competition. But with constant testing and safety protocols in place, Petecios confident of a virus-free stay in Tokyo.

It will take five wins for Petecio to claim gold. The round of 32 in her division is scheduled on July 24, the round of 16 on July 26, the quarterfinals on July 28, the semifinals on July 31 and the final on Aug. 3. The Ryogoku Sumo Hall is the venue for boxing in Tokyo. Petecio defeated four of the 20 Olympic competitors in her weight class at the 2019 World ChampionshipsRussias Liudmila Vorontsova, Englands Karriss Artingstall, Irie and Bulgarias Stanimira Petrova. One of the contenders, Colombias Yeni Arias, blanked Petecio, 5-0, at the 2018 World Championships. Among the favorites are European champion Irma Testa of Italy, 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Skye Nicolson of Australia, 2015 Pan-American Games gold medalist Caroline Veyre of Canada and 2018 world bantamweight champion and 2019 Asian Championships featherweight gold medalist Lin Yu Ting of Taiwan. Its a tall order for Petecio to win five in a row but with her blinders on, shes ready to go for gold.

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