As Mindanao fans celebrated the bronze triumph of Cagayan de Oro wonder boy Carlo Paalam, many ended up heartbroken as Dabawenya Nesthy Petecio settled for silver after yielding to Japanese Sena Irie in the women’s boxing featherweight finals of the Tokyo Summer Olympics on Tuesday, August 3.
Still, “it’s a silver that shines like gold,” said Dabawenyo and Philippine Sports Commissioner Charles Raymond Maxey.
Maxey said he wanted to tell Petecio that she “fought well, and the Filipino people will forever remember your performance in Tokyo.”
“No one will forget what you did today. And you’re such a humble athlete,” he said.
Maxey said based on the Incentives Act, Petecio is entitled to at least a P5-million reward from the government.
Maxey told Rappler that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) was very happy with the performance of Filipino athletes, and would continue supporting them.
“We admire their courage and determination, and we are thankful to them for competing for our flag. We owe so much to them for constantly sacrificing just to give us honor,” he said.
Davao-based sportswriter Lito delos Reyes said that despite the failure to clinch the gold, Petecio still deserves the same level of honor and accolade accorded to Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr., who gave the Philippines a silver – its one and only medal during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“Just like Onyok Velasco, Petecio has given us that honor. She is the first Filipina boxer to bring home the silver. That itself is a great accomplishment,” delos Reyes said.
There were others, though, who frowned on the outcome of the match.
In a fight where the the Davaol del Sur pride was the aggressor and the Japanese heroine appeared like sending more hugs than punches in a three-rounder that turned into a wrestling match, the nation was startled when a unanimous verdict went in favor of the host fighter.
“How come it was unanimous? I find it hard to accept unless the heartbreaking loss was due to a split decision,” said Ricky Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP). “Still, Petecio is the gold medalist in the eyes of the Filipino people. She did her best in that fight, and she was the winner.” – with reports from Lynde Salgados/Rappler.com