Olympic boxer Petecio credits inspiration from gold medalist Hidilyn in recommitting to training

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BOXER Nesthy Petecio lost her hunger and drive after claiming a silver medal in last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

But thanks to her friend, Tokyo Games weightlifting gold winner Hidilyn Diaz-Naranjo, the 30-year-old world champion has rekindled the fire that is now fueling her desire to go at it one final time at Olympic glory.

“After ng Olympics, gusto ko talaga magpahinga at i-feel ang mga dumadating sakin na blessing (I wanted to rest and enjoy my blessings),” Petecio said. “Nawala sa isip ko kung itutuloy ko pa ito, dumating sa isip ko kung kaya ko pa ba ito o gusto ko pa ba (Continuing with boxing was not my main preoccupation; what I was thinking about was whether I could do it or whether I wanted to).”

“Pero nakita ko si Hidilyn na una kong tinitingnan sa larangan ng sports. Siya nag bigay ng inspirasiyon at pinukaw niya ulit ang init ng puso ko sa sports at sinabi ko na kung kaya ni Hidilyn, kaya ko din (I saw what Hidilyn was doing and was inspired. She lit a flame in my heart, and I concluded if she can do it, so can I),” she added.

Petecio said she’s now close to her ideal weight and rediscovering her speed and reflexes.

“Sabi ni coach (Reynaldo) Galido ibalik ko daw bilis, reflexes ko tulad nung sa Olympics. Ngayon po maganda na form ko, hindi na din ganun kalayo sa timbang ko. Bilis at power na lang kailangan ko i-develop (Coach Galido urged me to return to the level I reached in Tokyo in terms of speed and reflexes. My form has returned, and I’m not far off from ideal weight. I just need to work on speed and power),” she said.

Petecio is currently training with the rest of the national team in Baguio City ahead of a busy 2023 that includes the Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games set for May 5-17 and the Hangzhou Asian Games on Sept. 23-Oct. 8.

They are also preparing for the Strandja Memorial tournament in early February in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Thailand Open, and the IBA World Women’s Championships in New Delhi, both in March.

From Baguio, the Nationals will fly to Muak Lek, Thailand in late February to resume training until the Cambodia SEA Games.

They also trained in Muak Lek before the Tokyo Olympics that yielded a silver each for Petecio and Carlo Paalam and a bronze by Eumir Marcial.

The Philippines is set to host a multi-nation training camp in Antipolo as a final tune up for Phnom Penh.

Also on the calendar are the Eindhoven Cup in the Netherlands in June, the ASBC Asian Clubs Elite Men’s and Women’s Boxing Championships at a still unspecified venue, the Elorda Cup in Nursultan, Kazakhstan in July, and an international training camp in China in August.

The boxers are also expected to compete at the World Combat Games in Riyadh in October and participate in another training camp for the 2024 Olympic Qualifying tournaments in November in the US, Wrapping up the year is The Grandslam in China in December. — Joey Villar