April 20, 2024

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Boxers Nesthy Petecio, Aira Villegas secure tickets for Paris 2024 Olympics

4 min read
PARIS-BOUND. Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas secure tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympics after their sterling performances in the 2024 1st World Qualification Tournament held in Busto Arsizio, Italy. OLYMPICS PHOTOS

Filipino boxing stars Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas etched their names into history books as they secured berths for the Paris Olympics after remarkable victories on March 12 (Philippine time) at the 2024 1st World Qualification Tournament held in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

Petecio, a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, showcased her resilience and skill in a hard-fought semifinal match against Esra Yildiz of Turkey in the women’s 57 kg division. 

Despite enduring a scratched eye, as a result of her previous bout, Petecio persevered and emerged victorious with a majority decision. With four judges scoring 29-28 in her favor, Petecio’s triumph earned her a ticket to the Paris Olympiad.

The road to victory was not without its challenges for Petecio. Facing a significant obstacle with her injured eye, she turned to faith for strength and guidance. 

In a heartfelt prayer, she surrendered her concerns to a higher power, trusting in divine intervention. Miraculously, her eye opened just hours before her crucial match, a testament to her unwavering belief and determination.

Petecio, after a controversial loss to Japanese Sena Irie in the gold medal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, vowed to bounce back in the Paris 2024 Olympics. As she earned her return trip to the Olympics, the Dabawenya boxer aims to fulfill her mission of winning the gold this time. 

Meanwhile, Aira Villegas secured her first Olympic qualification with a stellar performance in the women’s 50 kg quarterfinals. Facing off against Zlatislava Chukanova of Bulgaria, Villegas delivered a composed and skillful performance, ultimately prevailing to secure her spot in the semifinals. With her victory, Villegas joined Petecio in clinching a berth for the Paris Games.

Their achievements mark a significant milestone for Filipino boxing, as Petecio and Villegas become the sole representatives to secure Olympic berths out of the ten Filipino boxers who competed in the tournament. Despite the challenges they faced, including injuries and intense competition, Petecio and Villegas showcased their resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to excellence.

As they prepare to represent the Philippines on the world stage, Petecio and Villegas serve as inspirations to aspiring athletes across the nation. Their journey to Olympic qualification serves as a reminder of the power of perseverance, faith, and determination in overcoming adversity and achieving greatness.

With their places secured for the Paris Olympics, Petecio and Villegas add to the growing contingent of Filipino athletes set to compete on the global stage. Alongside pole vaulter Ernest “EJ” Obiena, boxer Eumir Marcial, and gymnasts Carlos “Caloy” Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, Petecio and Villegas proudly fly the flag for the Philippines, embodying the spirit of sportsmanship, excellence, and national pride.

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