How depression almost knocked Nesthy Petecio out of boxing

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
How depression almost knocked Nesthy Petecio out of boxing
Silver medallist 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.

MANILA, Philippines – Nesthy Petecio is now in the history books of Philippine sports as the first Filipina to win a medal in Olympic boxing.

But the 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medalist almost never made it to the Games.

This as she had thoughts of quitting the sport altogether a year before the buildup for the Olympics even began.

Because before she battled and conquered her foes in Tokyo, she needed first to win a bout with depression in 2018.

Leading up to the Asian Games in Indonesia that year, Petecio had won four consecutive gold medals and she felt like her strength was at its peak.

But this would all come to a screeching halt when she lost controversially to China's Yin Jun Hua via a 2-3 decision.

Despite being more aggressive, and even knocking down her foe, Petecio didn't win in three of the judges scorecards.

The decision hurled Petecio into a seven-month battle with depression, with the experience further complicated with personal troubles.

The pug opened up about the whole ordeal in an episode of the podcast Go Hard Girls hosted by Ceej Tantengco.

"Na-depress po talaga ako that time," Petecio said.

"Makikita ko yung gloves, ayaw ko hawakan. Nakikita ko yung punching bag, yung ring, nase-stress ako... Parang ayaw ko na sa boxing," she added.

Luckily for Petecio, she had help in her corner during the battle with sports psychologist Coach Marcus Manalo, who is currently in Tokyo with the boxing team right now.

According to the 29-year-old, having Manalo around was extremely helpful. 

Right after the Asian Games, Manalo was there for her and taught her to process her feelings in healthy ways.

"Sobrang nakatulong si Coach Marcus. Pag kinakausap niya kami, sarap pakinggan, sobrang mahinahon. Pinapa-remind niya sa amin kung bakit, para saan ito," said Petecio.

"Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa team kasi pinagbigyan nila ako. Unti-unti akong bumabawi, bumabangon," she added.

Petecio's experience can be a learning point for national teams and their programs, that it is high time that we take notice of our athletes' mental health and invest in it.

After all, we would've missed out on Petecio's sterling silver medal in Tokyo if the boxing star didn't get the mental health help she needed.


The Department of Health urges people seeking professional support to get in touch with the National Center for Mental Health hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 899-USAP (8727); or its Mind Matters hotline at 09189424864.

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