Petecio secures bronze, fights for gold

TOKYO –Nesthy Petecio eradicated another stumbling block on her road to gold in the Summer Olympic Games by pounding out a 5-0 victory over former tormentor, Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda in the quarterfinals of the 54-57 kg boxing competitions Wednesday at the Kokugikan Arena here.

Already enjoying its best-ever showing in the Olympiad following Hidilyn Diaz’s weightlifting gold on Monday, the Philippines was assured of another medal here, a bronze, courtesy of Petecio’s vengeful win against the Colombian bronze medalist in the 2019 Pan American Games.

Filipino boxer Nesthy Petecio (in red) deals a jarring blow to her Colombian opponent, thus ensuring for herself at least a bronze medal although she needs two more victories to clinch gold for the Philippines, the second after Hidilyn Diaz. AFP
It was also the country’s first boxing medal in the games in 25 years since the silver of Onyok Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and the first multiple-medal campaign in the games in 89 years since the 1932 Los Angeles edition, with the bronze medals of high-jumper Simeon Toribio, boxer Jose Villanueva and swimmer Teofilo Ydefonso.

“First medal, I did feel confident especially in this tournament po! Sobrang tuwa ko po, sobrang blessed po ako,” said the featherweight Petecio, who has already notched three wins here, needing two more to capture gold.

Petecio was cool and calculated with her pinpoint combinations in the first round, prompting Castaneda to be more aggressive in the second.

But the Filipinas 2019 champion of the World Championships in Russia, kept her focused and picked her spots, frustrating the Colombian with nifty counters from start to finish.

“Huwag daw akong makipag-dikitan sa kanya nang sobra-sobra kasi comfort zone niya po ‘yun. Alis po talaga ako, kahit pagod na. Alis talaga kasi ‘yun lang po talaga ‘yung main plan namin,” said Petecio of the game-plan against the Colombian, who has beaten her in the 2018 World Championships in New Delhi, India.

The impressive showing earned for Petecio scores of 30-27 from two judges and 29-28 from the other three.

“We watched the Colombian the other day and she was very aggressive so the plan was to try and counter-punch, but she changed her plan today and stood there just waiting for Nesthy,” said the Philippine team’s Australian coach Don Abnett.

“In the second round they were too close, they were wrestling. We told Nesthy not to turn the fight into a scrap but to pick her punches as she has the talent to do that,” added Abnett.

Petecio shoots for the gold-medal round on Saturday at 12:39 p.m. (Philippine time) against Italy’s Testa Irma, who whipped Canadian foe Caroline Veyre by the same dominant 5-0 score to enter the semifinals.

On Thursday, Eumir Felix Marcial, predicted by Association Press to win a gold medal here, debuts against Younes Nemouchi of Algeria in the  69-76kg division at 10:48 a.m. (Philippine time), while Irish Magno, fresh off her 5-0 demolition of Kenyan Christine Ongare, in the 48-51kg, takes on Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong next at 12:24 p.m. (Philippine time).

Carlo Paalam, after posting a 4-1 win over Ireland’s Brendan Irvine, fights Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi on Saturday at 10:48 a.m. (Philippine time).

In swimming, Remedy Rule ended her Olympic journey after placing 15th in the semifinals of the women’s 200-meter butterfly competition with a time of 2:12.89.

Topics: Nesthy Petecio , Summer Olympic Games , Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda , 54-57 kg boxing competitions , Tokyo Olympics
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