World champion Nesthy Petecio and two fellow boxers were the first athletes to enter the training bubble for the Tokyo Olympics aspirants in three combat sports which formally started on Friday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Petecio, the gold medal winner in the featherweight division of the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Russia, arrived at the “Calambubble” along with Marjon Planar and Junmilardo Ogayre all the way from Davao City.
The 2019 SEA Games gold medalist could not contain her excitement to finally get back to formal training and restart her bid to qualify for the Olympics slated in the Japanese capital on Jul. 23 to Aug. 8.
“Excited na po ako at kinakabahan. Baka iiyak tayo sa training,” jested the 28-year-old Petecio, who is on quarantine while waiting for the result of her RT-PCR test in her designated room at Inspire.
“Halos eight months na walang training kaya excited na kinakabahan. Nabitin nang ganun katagal ‘yung training ko kaya ‘di ko alam kung anong mangyayari. Mangangapa-ngapa tayo sa loob ng two weeks or one month.”
Petecio, who fell short in the Asia and Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan last year, now has her eyes locked on one of the four berths up for grabs in the World Olympic Qualifying Event–the last boxing qualifier–set in June.
Also expected to enter the facility on Friday are Carlo Paalam, Josie Gabuco and the national boxing team coaches, among others.
Irish Magno, one of the country’s four Olympic qualifiers so far, is set to join the training on Saturday while the rest of the boxing squad will arrive on Monday.
The Olympic training bubble for boxing, taekwondo and karate is expected to last for about three months.
Meanwhile, the staff of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) also arrived at Inspire ahead of the first batch of the Olympic hopefuls.
PSC chairman Butch Ramirez reiterated the strict implementation of the health and safety measures to prevent COVID-19 infection in the bubble.
“Ang ibinilin ko doon kay Marc Velasco (national training director), istrikto talaga sa health protocols. If one tested positive, we really have to stop the training immediately,” said Ramirez.