Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam are extremely thrilled as they have finally realized their lifelong dream of making it to the Olympics.
The two fighters were the latest additions to the Philippine boxing team set to see action in the Tokyo Games, qualifying by virtue of rankings as the final Olympic qualifiers in Paris were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
A total of four boxers are now vying for gold in the most prestigious sporting event, the other being Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.
“Pangarap ko rin po ‘to eh,” Petecio told Power and Play, Saturday.
“‘Pag hindi ako nakalaro, para sa’kin po, wala. Hindi buo ‘yung pagiging atleta ko hanggang hindi ako nakakalaro sa Olympics.”
“Ito yung pinaka-pangarap ng lahat ng atleta eh,” said Paalam.
“Ito yung bata ka pa, gusto mo na makalaro sa Olympics. Ito po ‘yung dream namin.”
Petecio and Paalam fought in the Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament last year, but both lost in the quarterfinals. Paalam had one more chance in the box-off, but lost as well to Kazakh Saken Bibossinov.
That didn’t actually mean the end of the road for the two, but the cancellation of the Paris OQT made Petecio worry about her Olympic aspirations.
“Nung sinabi ng coach ko na cancelled na nga raw po ‘yung Olympic qualifier sa Paris, siyempre nag-alala po ako. Paano ‘yung Olympic dream ko?” said the former AIBA Women’s world featherweight gold medalist.
Fortunately for her and other hopefuls, the IOC Boxing Task Force decided to fill in the remaining slots via rankings. The best-ranked athlete not yet qualified per region and per weight category will be given an Olympic ticket, per the BTF.
“Nung sinabi naman po na dahil nasa ranking tayo, nakaipon tayo, nakakuha tayo ng points natin, malaki ‘yung chance na makapasok tayo dahil dun na nila kukunin yung slots sa darating na Olympics, nahimasmasan din po ako roon.
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, sabi ko kay coach, si Lord na bahala kung ibigay niya sa’kin ‘to, hindi na natin pakakawalan ‘to,” said Petecio.
Paalam is grateful as well to have made it, big thanks to the IOC-BTF’s major adjustment. “Sobrang saya ko po kasi nasali kami dahil sa ranking namin,” said the 2019 Southeast Asian Games light flyweight king.
Still, both pugilists acknowledge the pressure, as they are among those seen to give the Philippines its first-ever Olympic gold. But the two are simply trying to focus as much as they can on becoming better boxers.
Petecio, Paalam, and the national boxing team are currently in Thailand for a training camp as part of their build-up for the Summer Games.
“Andun ‘yung pressure pero ‘yun nga po, hindi ko na siya ina-allow na mag-stay sa’kin. Alam kong andiyan ‘yung pressure pero diyan ka muna, ‘wag ka muna pumasok sa isip ko. Kumbaga may harang na po,” Petecio said.
“Yes po, andyan naman ‘yung pressure palagi,” seconded Paalam.
“Pero nama-manage ko naman po sarili ko.”