Olympics: Gold hopes Petecio, Yulo begin Tokyo medal hunt
TOKYO—When she kicks off the Tokyo Olympics boxing competition on Saturday, Nesthy Petecio will also rev up the Philippine team’s motor.
Petecio faces Marcelat Sakobi Matshu at Kokugikan Stadium, where she will be one of the favorites in the women’s featherweight (54 to 57 kilograms).
The reigning world women’s featherweight champion is expected to emerge triumphant from that match, but a victory puts her straight across the ring from Taiwanese world No. 1 Lin Yu-ting.
While she will be an underdog in that match, Petecio looks like an athlete with a chip on her shoulder after needing to qualify through her rankings because she failed to snatch an outright berth in an Olympic qualifying tournament.
“You reap what you sow,” Petecio said on missing an automatic ticket to Tokyo. “We sowed since 2018, 2019 and that allowed us to reap the fruits of our labor, our rankings.”
Also scheduled to fire up the country’s gold hunt is Carlos Yulo.
The world champion gymnast begins the preliminary round of his event on Saturday at Ariake Gymnastics Centre here.
“He’s ready, he looks really strong,” said Cynthia Carrion, who has been giving updates on Yulo after she and the gymnast’s team decided to put walls around the country’s brightest gold hope to keep him focused.
Kurt Barbosa, meanwhile, faces huge odds in his opening bout in the -58kg class of men’s taekwondo.
Barbosa, ranked 16th, faces top seed Jang Jun of Korea, the 2019 world champion who is expected to run away with the gold here.
Capping the Filipinos stint in Day 2 of the Olympics is swimmer Remedy Rule, who will see action in the 100m fly heats.
The Filipinos are hoping to build on the momentum of a positive start by rower Cris Nievarez, who qualified for the quarterfinals of the men’s single sculls on Thursday.
Nievarez, just the third Filipino rower to qualify for the Olympics, has now sailed farther than any rower before him.
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