I was optimistic but I was guarded when I watched Nesthy Petecio’s first match in women’s boxing in the Olympics. I couldn’t help
but recall Harry Tanamor’s 2008 stint. A two-time Olympian, a silver-medalist in the world championship and touted as gold medal winner by no less than the Associated Press, Tanamor fell in the first round.
I remember making sure to catch his first match, expecting to see an easy win only to see him lose.
So yep, I’ve learned to temper my expectations in the Olympics. But after just one round, I knew we were going to win. I thought only a miracle could stop Petecio from advancing to the round of 16. Not only was she dominant against the taller Marcelat Mashu, she was faster and more accurate too.
And of course, it helped that for the second straight Olympics, boxing has adopted the 10-point scoring used by the pros and the scores were flashed on screen after the end of each round. Unlike before, during Tanamor’s time, when judges counted punches, the system was open to, shall we say, creative scoring.
Now, it’s quality over quantity and Petecio showed loads of it in her first match.
So did Irish Magno a day later on July 25, when she beat Christine Ongare of Kenya in the women’s flyweight division. Making it two-for-two for our boxing team, a first in 16 years.
The last time we had two boxers advance past the first round was in Athens, when Tanamor and Romeo Brin made it to the round-of-16, where they lost.
With two making it and with another medal hopeful Eumir Marcial and Carlos Paalam still to see action, one can’t help dream that this could be it.
We all heard during the opening ceremony how the commentator described us as the country with the most number of Olympic medals without a gold.
This week, we are going to find out whether boxing can help end our drought.
And also on Monday, July 26, two other medal hopefuls in Margielyn Didal and Hidilyn Diaz will see action. Diaz was a complete surprise in Rio and nobody even mentioned a medal next her name prior to the games.
Now, we all know she’s aiming for a gold in her fourth Olympiad and we’re all hoping that she delivers. Didal and skateboarding is still a wildcard but still a win by the Cebuana will be a welcome surprise.
So far so good in Tokyo. Let’s hope the run continues.