ROAD TO 2024 | Petecio plans to finish school, bats for more government support for athletes
Aug 06, 2021 | 12:15 PM

By Mark Allan Cervantes

(August 6, 2021) – Just a few days removed from a historic silver medal finish in the Tokyo Olympics, boxer Nesthy Petecio is already looking forward to a possible stint in the next edition of the quadrennial event, drawing inspiration from the path Hidilyn Diaz took to get the gold medal.

There will be plenty of action for Petecio leading up to her next chance in the 2024 Paris Olympics like next year’s Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and Asian Games in China.

“Si champ Hidy, nag-silver siya sa Rio (Olympics), nag-gold siya dito (Tokyo). Bakit ba hindi ko subukan?” said Petecio during a Philippine Sportswriter Association online forum. “Malay mo sa Paris (makuha ‘yung gold medal). Sikap lang palagi.”

But aside from fighting, the pride of Davao del Sur is also thinking of her plans outside the ring.

Petecio told One News’ The Chiefs on Thursday that she definitely plans to finish her hotel and restaurant management degree at the University of Baguio, but the timeline and details will need to be ironed out by her coaches and professors.

“Ayoko rin pabayaan ‘yung training ko. Mahirap na maiwanan tayo sa training kasi ang hirap bumalik. Nakadepende kung ano ‘yung mapag-uusapan ng coaches at ng school ko. Adjust-adjust na lang,” said Petecio.

Petecio is no stranger to balancing her studies with her boxing career.  In fact, that’s exactly what she did during the lead up to her campaign in the 2019 AIBA World Championships, where she won the gold medal.

“’Yung coaches, nag-adjust din sila sa schedule ng pasok namin. Intindihan lang sa sitwasyon kaya nagawa kong i-balance ‘yung training at school,” said the fun-loving pugilist.

But Petecio and her team know where the main priority should be, as she heads home following an impressive stint in the Summer Games. At 29 years old, they understand that the 2024 Paris Olympics might very well be her final chance to capture that elusive gold medal.

“Lagi sinasabi sa amin ng coaches na ‘yung pag-aaral, nandiyan lang ‘yan. Kahit anong edad, puwede mong tapusin, pero ‘yung sa boxing career, hindi kami bumabata kaya dapat samantalahin namin habang malakas pa kami,” said Petecio.

In her journey to 2024, Petecio will be banking on all the momentum she gained from her silver medal finish, but more importantly, she will be banking on an overhauled sports program that was once underfunded and lacking of needed support.

Leading up to their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, several athletes including Diaz, Eumir Marcial, and Irish Magno voiced out their concerns on the lack of assistance from the government, which caused quite the hysteria, both from officials and fans.

But for sure, it was a story that needed to be told.

Now, the outcry has led to the country’s best showing ever in the Olympics. The immense success of Filipino athletes has shown everyone what all-out support can ultimately bring. As for Petecio, she hopes the welcome development continues even after the Tokyo Olympics, as it will surely be a big factor on her chances at redemption.

“Sa ngayon, sobrang ganda ng suporta. Mas maganda kung may suporta kasi nakakadagdag ng lakas ‘yung makita mo ‘yung kumpleto ang gamit mo, may mapapag-ensayuhan kayo nang maayos. Nakaka-inspire ‘yun sa mga atleta,” said Petecio.

She knows that the road to a second consecutive Olympic stint will be one of the most difficult challenges of her life, but she takes comfort in the fact that she will not be alone in the journey. It will be her, along with the 110 million Filipinos supporting her. (PM)