Sports

Petecio, Villegas box their way to Paris Olympics

 MANILA – Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas will be going to the Paris Olympics this July rounding up to six the Filipinos already qualified for the July games.

This developed as they scored  impressive performances at the 1st World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy, last Tuesday.

The Philippines will have a lot to prove in the 2024 Olympics after a historic 2021 run in Tokyo, where living legend Hidilyn Diaz won the country’s first-ever gold through a masterful weightlifting display.

Petecio trounced Turkiye’s Esra Yildiz, 4-1, in the semifinal of the women’s 57kg category to earn a return trip to the Olympics after winning the silver medal in Tokyo, PNA’s Jean Malanum reported.

“I am so blessed. This is very important for me because maybe this is my last Olympics,’’ said Petecio in an interview with olympics.com.

“I got this ticket for so many people, especially my family, to God, and for our former President who died (past Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines president Ed Picson), and for my partner in life. Before (the tournament), I promised her that I would win the ticket to Paris and finally this is it! I’m so happy,” added the 31-year-old from Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur.

“I will not stop until I get the Olympic gold medal,” Petecio added.

Villegas, on the other hand, pulled off a 5-0 win over Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Chukanova in the quarterfinals of the women’s 50kg class.

Petecio and Villegas will join fellow boxer and Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and gymnasts Carlo Yulo and Aleah Finnegan in the Paris Summer Games scheduled from July 26 to August 11.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino congratulated Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas for qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

“My heartfelt congratulations to Nesthy and Aira, they deserve to be in Paris,” said Tolentino said.. “I’m really proud of Nesthy and Aira.”

Tolentino, who was at the venue cheering the Filipino boxers, encouraged other Filipino athletes to continue with their Olympic dream.

“And to our athletes who have yet to qualify, and those who missed Paris here, never say never! You still have all the chances to make it to the Olympics,” he said.

“It’s good timing because we are celebrating Women’s Month in March … imagine two women made it to the Olympics,” he added.

Tokyo Olympics men’s featherweight silver medalist Carlo Paalam, light welterweight Mark Ashely Fajardo and women’s middleweight Hergie Bacyadan still have a chance in the second and final Paris qualifier in Bangkok from May 23 to June 3.