Petecio earns place in Philippine sports lore with sterling Olympic silver

Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com
Petecio earns place in Philippine sports lore with sterling Olympic silver
Silver medalist Philippines' Nesthy Petecio poses on the podium with her medal after the women's feather (54-57kg) boxing final bout during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 3, 2021.
Luis Robayo / Pool / AFP

TOKYO – Nesthy Petecio’s swashbuckling show atop the ring in the Tokyo Games culminated in a silver-medal feat.

And she made history just the same.

TRACKER: Team Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics

Cunning and brave but turning tentative at the start of the finale, Petecio paid the price, missing out on a shot at the female featherweight gold versus hometown bet and old tormentor Sena Irie.

Petecio cried unabashedly during the awarding ceremony, with the Japanese the one standing proud atop the podium hearing their national anthem being played at the Kokugikan Arena.

The 29-year-old Davao native nonetheless gained the distinction as the first Philippine female boxer to win an Olympic medal — in the same soil where the country earned its first silver in 1964 courtesy of Anthony Villanueva.

And for that, Petecio is to fly home also with a rich windfall including P5 million each from the government, the MVP Sports Foundation and San Miguel Corp., P2 million from Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, and a condominium unit worth P10 million from Suntrust Properties Inc. of tycoon Andrew Tan.

Flyweight Carlo Paalam added to the rich harvest of the Philippine boxing team as he humbled Rio gold medal winner Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan to advance to the semifinals for a sure bronze.

In a major coup, the Philippine boxing team is guaranteed of three medals from four fighters sent to the Tokyo Games.

Middleweight Eumic Marcial and Paalam look to march on and get a shot at the ultimate glory as they take on Ukrainian Oleksandr Khyzhniak and Japanese Ryomei Tanaka, respectively, on Thursday.

As it is, Philippine boxing is assured of its finest showing in the Summer Games, easily topping the silver feats in 1964 (Villanueva) and 1996 (Onyok Velasco) and bronze hits in 1932 (Jose Villanueva), 1988 (Leopoldo Serantes) and 1992 (Roel Velasco).

Though coming up short in the finale, Petecio earned her place in the Philippine sports lore that would be remembered for a long time.

The nation celebrated the feat with a shower of adulations thrown at her.

“Congratulations to Nesthy Petecio for winning the Tokyo Olympics silver medal in women’s featherweight. Yours is a historic win for being the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal in boxing since we joined the Olympics almost a century ago,” said Sen. Bong Go, chair of the Senate Sports Committee.

“Bilang isa kapwa Dabawenyo, malaki ang paghanga ko sa ipinakita mong gilas at tapang sa loob ng boxing ring,” Go also said. “With your unrelenting spirit, determination and competitiveness, you are one of the beacons that keep inspiring our people especially our youth amid trying times.”

Petecio vowed not to stop here, saying she’s looking forward to the 2024 Paris Games.

“Tuloy ang laban. Malay niyo sa Paris ko makuha (ang gold),” said Petecio.

She missed it here on a lazy start, giving the Japanese a good head start to take the opening round at 5-0 and eventually the first Olympic gold for Japan in women's boxing.

“Siguro may hindi ako napuna agad. Nagkulang ako,” said Petecio.

Petecio waged a fightback as she turned aggressor in the second round onward.

She got the nod of the judges in the second round, 4-1, but couldn’t put up a convincing stand to sway judging in her favor in the third and last round.

In the end, Irie won by a unanimous decision.

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