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PH boxers Petecio, Villegas secure slots in 2024 Paris Olympics

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Nesthy Petecio (left) and Aira Villegas (right) qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics after overcoming their respective foes in the 1st World Qualification Tournament. PHOTOS: Associated Press/Federacio Espau00f1ola de Boxeo (Facebook) and Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
Filipina boxers Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas became the fifth and sixth delegates from the Philippines in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.
This comes after the two of them performed exceptionally well in the 1st World Qualification Tournament at the E-Work Arena in Busto Arsizio, Italy, on Monday, March 11 (Tuesday, March 12, Manila time).
Both will join pole vaulter Ernest John "EJ" Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, and fellow boxer Eumir Marcial as representatives of the Southeast Asian nation in the biggest multi-sports event in July this year.

Resurgent Petecio heads to Paris for gold medal chase

An unfinished business is about to be settled in the City of Love. Hurdling the first step in her dream from three years ago, Petecio secured a top-two finish in the women's 57 kilograms category with a 4-1 split decision triumph over Turkey's Esra Yildiz.
While Yildiz received unanimous decision nods from all five judges in the third round, it wasn't enough to deny Petecio a ticket to Paris. The Tokyo 2020 silver medalist claimed victory with scores of 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
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"I am so blessed. This is very important for me because maybe this is my last Olympics," Petecio told Olympics.com in an interview.
"I got this ticket for so many people, especially my family, to God, and for our former President who passed away (former Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines president Ed Picson), and for my life partner. Before, I promised her that I would win the ticket to Paris, and finally, this is it! I'm so happy," she added.
Petecio dominated every opponent she faced on her way to the semifinal round. The 2019 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships gold medalist started her campaign with a referee stops the contest (RSC) win over Serbia's Andela Brankovic in the Round of 64. Then, she achieved unanimous decision victories against Romania's Maria Claudia Nechita in the Round of 32, Germany's Nancy Canan Tas in the Round of 16, and the Netherlands' Maud van der Toorn in the quarterfinals.
Although already achieving a historic feat in Japan's capital, it was still a bittersweet moment for the Davao del Sur native as she failed to attain her goal of bringing home the gold after losing to home favorite Irie Sena of Japan in a controversial unanimous decision.
"Naiyak po ako kasi nanghihinayang po ako para sa mga coaches ko, kasi nga i-aalay ko sana. Gusto ko po sanang ialay 'yung gold para kay coach Nolito [Velasco] po pero ayun po kinulang po tayo," the now 31-year-old Petecio said at that time.
(I cried because I felt sorry for my coaches, because I wanted to dedicate it. I wanted to dedicate the gold to coach Nolito Velasco but we fell short.)
She even apologized for the heartbreaking defeat.
"Humihingi po ako ng pasensya kung silver lang po naiuwi ko. Ginawa ko po lahat ng makakaya ko kanina," Petecio furthered. "Ginawa ko po 'yung best ko sa taas ng ring po."
(I apologize if I only brought home silver. I did everything I could inside the ring. I did my best up there.)
Unfazed by the heartbreak, Petecio vowed to continue chasing the gold at the Paris meet.
"Continue pa rin po ako. Chasing the gold pa rin po tayo," she promised. "Hindi pa tapos po, may [2024] Paris [Olympics] pa po."
(I will continue. We're still chasing the gold. It's not over yet, there's still Paris.)
Now, she has secured her spot in a convincing fashion.

Villegas secures Paris ticket as well

It was a double celebration for the Philippine boxing team and the country as Villegas also qualified for the Summer Olympics.
Unlike Petecio's weight class, which offers two Olympic berths, Villegas' women's 50kg division allots four slots.
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Not wasting the chance, the southpaw boxer from Tacloban earned a spot in the final four by defeating Bulgaria's Zlatislava Chukanova with a unanimous decision, 5-0 (29-27, 29-27, 28-28, 28-28, 28-28).
However, contrary to the result, it wasn't a walk in the park for the Filipina after three judges settled for a tie, while the other two favored her.
According to the rules established by the Paris 2024 Boxing Unit, in case three or more judges have tied scores, they must select a winner.
The judges chose Villegas.
Winning the first two rounds unanimously, Villegas left the door open for Chukanova after incurring a one-point penalty for holding.
The Bulgarian then bolstered her chances of snatching the automatic Paris seat by dropping Villegas in the final round with a right straight to the head, but Villegas stood her ground and finished the fight to seal her Olympic debut.
On the other hand, eight Filipino boxers who were eliminated from contention in the first Olympic Qualifiers can still make their way to Paris.
Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon, Claudine Veloso, Mark Ashley Fajardo, John Marvin, Ronald Chavez Jr., Hergie Bacyadan, and Riza Pasuit can qualify for the Olympics through the second and final World Qualification Tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, in May.

Last Modified: 2024-Mar-17 08.00.00 UTC+0800