Before Hidilyn Diaz came into the scene and erased the doubts, Filipinos tended to put stock in the possibility that Olympic gold can come from a Pinoy Olympian boxer. But since the country’s Olympic debut in 1924, only six boxers have medaled against international competition, none of them for gold. Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco came very close in Atlanta 1996 only to lose the finals to a Bulgarian and settle for silver. The boxers for Tokyo 2020 all seem to promise a repeat of Hidilyn getting gold, but now we can count medal front-runner Nesthy Petecio out following her finals bout.
CNN Philippines reports that women’s featherweight boxer for Team PH Nesthy Petecio ended her campaign for Tokyo Olympics gold this Tuesday, August 3 after losing to Japan’s Sena Irie in the gold-medal match. The chances looked decent if not solid for Petecio, considering she has faced Irie three times in the ring before getting their spots for Tokyo. Unfortunately, despite a near-lack of audience crowds at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena, Irie was still representing the Olympic host country and thus had a home-court advantage. A clinch-heavy tactic also contributed, as the match ended in a 5-0 unanimous win for Irie.
While the race for a second Tokyo gold was foiled, it is not as if Nesthy will be returning home empty-handed. For losing the finals she still gets a silver, the first Filipina boxer to do so and making her a distaff counterpart to Atlanta 1996’s Velasco and Anthony Villanueva of Tokyo…in 1964. Furthermore, the Davaoeña (Del Sur) from Santa Cruz is still up to receive combined cash incentives from private donors and a grateful national government for her achievement. P17 million is nothing to sneeze at. Neither are a Davao City condo and 60,000 Mabuhay miles from Philippine Airlines to last her a lifetime.
Now, only two boys have yet to decide their fates in the ring, although at present Eumir Marcial and Carlos Paalam already have guaranteed bronzes as they await their semifinal bouts. Combine those with Hidilyn Diaz’s gold and Nesthy Petecio’s silver, and the record of Los Angeles 1932 with the three bronzes is already broken. That might at least assuage the last desperate effort of gymnast hopeful Carlos Yulo, whose last medaling event in the men’s vault ended with him at fourth place overall, short of even a bronze finish.
Image courtesy of GMA News