Nesthy Petecio burst into tears as soon as she found out she earned a unanimous decision win over Yeni Marcela Arias of Colombia in their women’s featherweight quarterfinals clash in the Tokyo Olympics.
With a semifinal berth and a guaranteed bronze medal on the line, Petecio faced immense pressure knowing she needed to author a convincing win to advance to the next round.
A win meant Petecio becoming the first Filipina boxer to clinch an Olympic medal, while a loss meant a disappointing finish for the 29-year-old who won a world championship in the same weight class.
But Petecio stayed composed and put on a masterclass against Arias to earn the nod of all five judges, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28.
“I’m so happy for this moment. This is my first Olympics and I’ve won my first medal. I don’t really know how I feel right now,” Petecio said in Filipino in a dispatch from Tokyo.
“This tournament is proving so special to me, I’m just so blessed.”
With her victory, Petecio became the first Filipino boxer – male or female – to win an Olympic medal since Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco netted silver in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Paired with Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold in weightlifting, the guaranteed bronze will also pave the way for the Philippines for its first multi-medal finish in the Olympics since the 1932 Los Angeles Games.
While she already hurdled arguably the biggest stumbling block in the tournament when she stunned top seed Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei, Petecio knew she cannot afford to rest on her laurels against Arias.
Arias, after all, beat Petecio by unanimous decision in the 2018 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships.
The winner of the first two rounds, Petecio only needed to score sufficient points and avoid a knockout in the third round.
“We told Nesthy not to turn the fight into a scrap but to pick her punches as she has the talent to do that,” said national team coach Don Abnett.
Petecio will gun for a berth in the gold-medal match with a win against Irma Testa of Italy in their semifinals tussle on Saturday, July 31. – Rappler.com