Thursday, September 16, 2021

Olympic gold dream lives on

SILVER SHINES GOLD. The Philippines' Nesthy Petecio holds up her silver medal after losing to Japan's Sena Irie in the women's featherweight final boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, August 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)

AN OUTPOURING of appreciation and congratulations from a grateful nation showered Tokyo 2020 Olympics women's boxing featherweight silver medalist Nesthy Alcayde Petecio whose heartbreaking loss to hometown bet Sena Irie of Japan in their titular showdown on August 3 has even kept her Olympic gold hopes alive in Paris 2024.

“Tuloy pa rin ho. Kagaya ni champ Hidy, nag-silver siya sa Rio and nag-gold siya dito at 30, kaya tuloy ang laban (The journey continues. Just like champ Hidilyn Diaz who got a silver in Rio and won a gold here at 30, the fight continues)” Petecio, who hails from Barangay Tuban in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, was quoted as saying during a post-fight press conference in a Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) press release.

The 29-year-old Petecio, a 2019 Aiba Women's World Boxing featherweight champion, put up a gallant stand down to the final round but still came up short.

Her coach Nolito "Boy" Velasco told SunStar Davao: "Ang plano ni Coach Don stand on the center of the ring like a king. Pero doon sya nalamangan kaya palit kami agad taktika kinulang pa rin (Head coach Don Abnett's plan was for her to stand on the center of the ring like a king. But that's where she was outpointed that's why we immediately changed tactic but still fell short)."

Coach Velasco congratulated Petecio, saying, "I'm proud of her." He cried when Petecio also dedicated her silver to him.

"Naiyak ako Ma'am sa sobra kong saya kasi grabe ang aming nadaanan na sakripisyo noong 2018. Nadaya kami, depress na depress kami nun (I cried because of tears of joy as we have been through a lot of sacrifices in 2018. We were cheated and we were so depressed then)," the seasoned coach recalled.

Petecio, who was in tears during the medal ceremony, said, "This means a lot to me. I dedicate this fight to my country, my family, and my best friend, who died last February. But most especially, I dedicate this silver medal to my coach, Coach Boy, for his tireless effort to bring me to where I am now.”

Petecio's mother, Prescilla, who cried after the decision was made, said her daughter was cheated of the gold.

"Nasayod mi nga daog jud si Nesthy. Naluoy kong Nesthy kay nihilak jud sya (We know that Nesthy won the fight. I pity her because she cried)," the mom said, adding that her child called them at home after the match.

She continued, "Nakatawag sya kadali lang, gipangutana nako musta sya. Tell nako sya, ‘Daug ka nak para namo.’ Tell pud sya nako, ‘Kabalo ko Ma, kabalo ko Ma’ (She called and we talked shortly and I asked her how she was. I told her `You won for us'. She also replied, ‘I know Ma, I know Ma'."

But Prescilla has just shrugged it off and just cheered her daughter that there will be other tournaments for her.

The proud mom also thanked everybody who supported and prayed for her child.

"Nagapasalamat sad mi sa mga ginahatag nila kay Nesthy (We also thank what they have been giving Nesthy)," she added.

Cash windfall

Gone are the days when Petecio and her siblings would scour the streets for scrap metals to sell or vend yema on consignment so they could have allowance in going to school or to buy a kilo of rice for the family.

The family resided in Bago Gallera in Davao City, in a house built by their father, Teodoro, using tarps and woods, from 2002 to 2010. Teodoro worked at Iluminada Farms by collecting chicken dung.

And now, Petecio will rake in a total of P17 million as of August 3 -- P5 million from the Philippine government through the Philippine Sports Commission via Republic Act (RA) 10699, also known as the National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act; P5 million from MVP Sports Foundation of Manny V. Pangilinan; P5 million from businessman Ramon S. Ang; and P2 million from Deputy House Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman Partylist.

On top of the cash windfall, Petecio will also receive from real estate tycoon Dr. Andrew L. Tan a P10-million fully-furnished residential condominium unit at One Lakeshore Drive inside the 11.2-hectare Davao Park District in Lanang, Davao City to fulfill her dream of owning a house in Davao City.

Suntrust Properties Inc. President Atty. Harrison Paltongan, in a press statement, said, "We are very proud of this huge accomplishment of Nesthy Petecio. Her silver medal in the Olympics is a historic one because this women’s featherweight division of boxing debuts only in this Tokyo Olympics, and she is the first silver medalist in the category. Rightfully, she deserves the reward from our chairman, Dr. Andrew L. Tan, for the pride she gives to the Filipino nation."

The Ovialand Inc. earlier committed to award Petecio a brand new P2.5-million house and lot in Caliya, Candelaria after she booked a ticket to the finals.

Philippine Airlines also feted her, saying, "Your silver win showed the heart of a strong Filipina to the world! Thank you for making the country proud. Philippine Airlines is gifting Nesthy Petecio 60,000 Mabuhay Miles per year, for life - adding her to our growing list of Forever Flyers."


Petecio has gone a long way from training with her father with only slippers as punch mitts and wrapped scraps of clothes as her boxing gloves. Her humble beginning continues to give hope to a nation hungry for inspiration in this time of the pandemic.

Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) Secretary-General Ed Picson hailed the 2019 SEA Games champion. "Nesthy has always been a gem of a boxer and as a person. Things did not happen as we expected today but in our hearts, she will always be a winner. She was also gracious as a loser so she did the country proud in so many ways. Her legacy is assured."

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William "Butch" Ramirez, for his part, said: "We are very happy for Nesthy. She is now a celebrity, she will have a house, and she will have P5M as her cash incentive from PSC, and others. She has to manage her money and their family. Sports broke poverty for Nesthy. What is important now, she has to manage herself and her money."

PSC Commissioner Charles Raymond A. Maxey also congratulated Petecio. "It's a silver that shines like gold. She made our country proud. The Filipino people will forever remember Nesthy's performance in Tokyo. No one will forget what she did."

Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz also took to her social media to congratulate Petecio.

"I know na ginawa mo ang lahat and silver medal, additional medal yun sa atin. Alam mo, para sa puso ko at sa puso ng bawat Pilipino, ikaw ang panalo. Congratulations and thank you for bringing pride and honor sa ating bansa (I know you gave it your all and the silver is an additional medal for us. You know what, in my heart and in the hearts of every Filipino, you are the winner. Congratulations for bringing pride and honor to our country)," Diaz said.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports who earlier initiated to President Rodrigo Duterte to give additional P100,000 allowance to each of the 19 Olympians on top of the $1,000 from the PSC, said, "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. Bilang isang kapwa mo Dabawenyo at chair ng Senate Sports Committee, malaki ang paghanga ko sa ipinakita mong gilas at tapang sa loob ng boxing ring (I admire you for your elegance and bravery inside the boxing ring)."

Go cited Petecio's unrelenting spirit, determination, and competitiveness.

"You are one of the beacons that keep inspiring our people, especially our youth, amid trying times," he added.

The journey

Petecio learned the basics of boxing through his father who was her first trainer and coach. She was about nine years old then. She remembered competing in an Araw ng Dabaw amateur boxing tournament.

In 2007 or 2008, she wanted to join the National Amateur Boxing Open Championships in Cagayan de Oro City but she needed a team. She was eyeing Panabo but the latter won't accept a female boxer at that time so she joined the Calinan boxing team of coach Jun Israel Sagarino. She emerged national champion there and that's when the national boxing team coaches were already contacting Davao. She said few people tried blocking her entry into the national team. She only learned that the national boxing coaches were very much interested in her after her National Open victory when she already joined the national team when she was 15.

President Duterte, then mayor of Davao City, also bought her plane ticket to Manila.

Since then, she has won gold medals and championships in different international boxing competitions on top of her one gold and three silvers in past Southeast Asian (SEA) Games; and one gold and one silver in Aiba Women's World Boxing Championships in 2019 and 2014, respectively. She also won a silver and a bronze in Asian Championships.

Petecio's first sport was basketball. She would often sneak out of their house to play basketball with their neighbors. But after seeing female boxers compete in the 2005 SEA Games, she was encouraged to try out the sport.

"Pinaka-reason jud nagboxing ko kay pangarap sa akong Papa nga mag Olympics ko. Niana ko sa akong sarili, pangarap niya mag Olympics, akong pangarap makamedal sa Olympics (I got into boxing because my father wanted me to play in the Olympics. But I told myself, I will win a medal in the Olympics)," she said.

With her Tokyo feat, she has already fulfilled her earlier dream of winning an Olympic medal.

But all the glory did not happen overnight as she also experienced a string of heartbreaks, and the most painful one was a controversial round of 16 loss to Chinese Junhua Yin in the 18th Asian Games 2019 held in Indonesia. It devastated her to the point of thinking about quitting boxing. But when she thought of her family, her hope was then rekindled.

She has always kept to heart what her coaches taught her -- hard work, perseverance, discipline, and determination. These she carried as she also juggled her hectic training schedule and competitions abroad to complete a two-year course at the University of Baguio.


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