Out Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio secured the first silver medal in Olympic Women’s Featherweight Boxing Tuesday after losing in heartbreaking fashion to Japan’s Sena Irie via unanimous decision. Afer the match, Petecio dedicated her medal to the LGBTQ community.
But the fight itself was much closer than the story the judges’ scorecards tell. After Irie was awarded the first round, Petecio battled back with solid combinations in the second. In contrast, Irie worked a solid jab but also spent a good chunk of the gold medal bout tying up and clinching Petecio.
Petecio made up ground in the second round, setting up a winner-take-all third round that resembled more of the same: Petecio launching flurries when an opening showed itself and Irie working the jab in between throwing off Petecio’s rhythm with grapples.
All five judges scored the third round in Irie’s favor, giving the Tokyo resident the first Women’s Featherweight gold medal in Olympic history. Though Women’s Boxing has been included at the Olympics since 2012, the 2020 Games marked the first inclusion of the sport’s featherweight division.
Look at Nesthy Petecio during her awarding pic.twitter.com/9qZhEge8sL— Chels (@ChelsToleds) August 3, 2021
Petecio’s silver medal also proved historic. Her incredible run at the Tokyo Games made her the first woman from the Philippines to win a boxing medal, and the first Filipino boxer to medal at the Olympics since 1996. She and fellow out teammate Irish Magno were also the first Filipino women ever to compete in boxing at the Olympic level.
And Petecio’s show of emotion during the medal ceremony proved that the moment wasn’t lost on her despite not returning home with the gold. Petecio openly wept as she raised her medal on the podium.
“I cried earlier because I wanted to dedicate the gold to coach Nolito [Velasco],” she told ESPN afterward. “We came up short but I did my best in the ring.”
She added that “this fight is also for the LGBTQ community.”
Petecio’s best brought immense pride to her home nation, and it is paying her back in kind. Per PhilStar News, Filipino real estate companies Suntrust Properties and Ovialand awarded Petecio a condo and house worth P10 million ($201,000) and P2.5 million ($50,000) respectively. She was also given a P17 million ($342,000) incentive.
The silver medalist’s rise from an impoverished childhood to Olympic success has been the prevailing narrative during her run in Tokyo. Now, after making history, she appears to be set for life financially.
But that doesn’t mean she is complacent. Petecio is already looking to the Paris Games in 2024, staking her claim for the Philippines’ first boxing gold medal.
We’re still chasing the gold,” she said. “We’re not done.”