Fueled by Hidilyn’s triumph, Nesthy finds her inner fire blazing again
Nesthy Petecio has always seen Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo as an inspiration.
News of Diaz-Naranjo’s golden triumph in the Tokyo Olympics fueled the boxer’s own silver medal finish in the Japanese capital. Diaz-Naranjo’s billboard at the entrance of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex always awed Petecio.
So when she was alerted to the weightlifter’s latest feat, a triple-gold performance in the International Weightlifting World Championships recently in Bogota, Colombia, Petecio was again fired up.
“When I saw Hidilyn win the world championships, it gave me a lot of encouragement to return to training and chase my dream of winning an Olympic gold medal,’’ said Petecio in Filipino.
Diaz-Naranjo bagged a gold medal each in the snatch, clean and jerk and total events of the women’s 55 kilogram in the worlds, the only remaining marquee weightlifting event whose prized hardware was still previously missing for the country’s only Olympic gold medalist.
The spark of inspiration that win lit was crucial for the country’s only female boxing Olympic medalist.
Petecio admitted the multimillion-rewards that flooded in after her silver medal finish in the women’s featherweight class in Tokyo, Japan, doused her competitive fire and dulled her hunger to climb back on the ring to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“After the [Tokyo] Olympics, I just wanted to rest and enjoy all the blessings. It reached a point when I began to question myself. Do I still want to compete? Can I still do it?’’ said Petecio. “Hidilyn rekindled the fire in me.’’
The 2019 world champion is now camped in Baguio City with the rest of the national boxing squad during the holidays as they prepare for several tournaments next year beginning with the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, in February.
The team will set up camp in Muak Lek, Thailand, in the same month and compete in the Thailand Open International Tournament come March before Petecio takes her gloves to the International Boxing Association World Women’s Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India, at the end of March.
“We are looking at six to seven tournaments next year as we work it out to qualify in Paris. Right now, we are back to basics [in training]. I’m in good shape, my weight is within range and I’m working on my reflexes, but I have to develop my power and speed,’’ said Petecio.
Petecio will enter another training camp with the team in Antipolo City come April in preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and will also compete in the Asian Boxing Confederation Asian Clubs Elite Men’s Women’s Boxing Championships in July.
The national boxing team will train in China in August prior to the Asian Games in Hangzhou slated on Sept. 23-Oct. 8, and see action in the World Combat Games from Oct. 21 to 30 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The boxers will then set up camp in either Sheffield, United Kingdom, or Colorado Springs, United States, in preparation for the Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Boxing’s Olympic qualification tournaments, however, are in peril of being scrapped after the International Olympic Committee threatened to remove the sport from the 2024 Paris Olympics program.
“It pains me to hear that. It will be sad, especially for younger women who are aspiring to achieve what we have accomplished in women’s boxing. I hope these women are given a chance to compete in the Olympics,’’ said Petecio.
Despite the cloud of doubt hovering, nothing will distract the 30-year-old Petecio from gradually recovering her old fighting form.
Thanks to Diaz-Naranjo’s feat, Petecio is back on track on the road to qualify for Paris in pursuit of the gold.
“It all began when I saw her on the billboard at the gate of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex several years ago. I told myself that one day I want to see my face in that tarpaulin and eventually I did,’’ said Petecio. “If Hidilyn can, I can also do it.’’ INQ
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