Show of force by Petecio

Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star
Show of force by Petecio
DR Congo's Marcelat Sakobi Matshu (red) and Philippines' Nesthy Petecio fight during their women's feather (54-57kg) preliminaries boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on July 24, 2021.

Yulo, Barbosa get off on wrong foot

TOKYO – As the smoke of the Olympic opening rites cleared, Philippine female boxer Nesthy Petecio was among the first to plunge into action, and she’s on target in an easy disposal of her Round of 32 foe at the Kokugikan Arena here yesterday.

But the day for Team Philippines turned gloomy at night as world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo faltered and fumbled in his pet event – floor exercise – where he’s expected to contend for the gold.

Alas, he fared badly in the qualifications and missed the final.

It’s good that Petecio lived up to expectation as among the country’s brightest medal hopes early in the day, overwhelming Congo’s Marcelat Sakobi for a unanimous win, following the good start provided by rower Cris Nievarez last Friday.

The Davao City native drew the nod of all five judges in the clinical triumph cheered on by a pocket crowd including Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez and former Philippine ace equestrienne Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, now an IOC official.

A bit later, Team Philippines suffered a first casualty on the exit of taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa in a shattering defeat to a superior rival in 58kg top seed Jang Jun of South Korea.

So dominant was the Korean that he finished off the Filipino via the “Win by 20-Point Gap” in the 1:46 (26-6) mark of the third round. In the semis, however, the two-time world champion took a stunning loss to Tunisia’s Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi, and dashed Barbosa’s hopes of making it to the repechage.

Then came a bigger heartbreaker as Yulo placed just 44th out of 68 participants in the event where he emerged world champ in Stuttgart, Germany in 2019.

A saving grace for Yulo’s downfall was his entry into the eight-man vault final.

But it was a disaster in the floor exercise where he earned a poor score of 13.566 points for 44th, giving credence to talks that he got hurt in a bad fall in practice in the run-up to the Olympics.

He was 69th out of 74 performers in pommel horse, 24th in the rings, 55th in parallel bars, 63rd in high bar and 47th in all-around.

Petecio made the day for the Philippine delegation earlier versus Sakobi, the African champ, who was in the fight only in the early goings, using her longer reach as she tried to tag the Pinay.

“Pinag-aralan ko pa, at nagmimintis naman siya. Third round kuhang-kuha ko na siya,” said Petecio as she cut down to size her much taller rival to advance to the Last 16 of the featherweight class.

The next round is a virtual medal match as Petecio clashes with top seed Taiwanese Lin Yu-ting in a fight pitting two former AIBA World Championships winners.

“Di pa kami nagkalaban. Dama ko tinitignan niya ako, pero tinitignan ko rin naman siya. Matagal na kaming nag-eensayo para sa kanya,” said Petecio of the Taiwanese.

The other Philippine lady fighter, flyweight Irish Magno, climbs the ring at 11:15 a.m. today versus Kenyan Christine Ongare.

Nievarez returns to the Sea Forest Waterway for his second race, eyeing a spot in the A-B semifinals while shooter Jayson Valdez launches his bid in the 10-meter air rifle over at the Asaka Shooting Range.

Team Philippines will be busier on Day 3 of competitions with weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarder Margie Didal, reigning champs in both the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games, now trying to win in the global stage.

Petecio impressed with her 5-0 conquest of Sakobi.

Once she had adjusted to the game of Sakobi, the Pinay southpaw peppered the Congo fighter with swift combinations.

Mongolian judge Mandakhbayar Otgonbayar, Algerian Sidali Mokretari, Australian Maksim Sulejmani and Romania’s Manuela Cobzac all scored in 30-27 for Petecio while American Andrew Mustacchio saw it at 29-28 also for the Pinay.

Sakobi earned one point from the American judge in the first round.

Petecio took the first round at 4-1 and both the second and the last rounds at 5-0.

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