After Nesthy Petecio heard the announcer call Sena Irie’s name as the Olympic gold medal winner in the women’s featherweight finals, the Filipina boxer took a moment of silence, nodded her head multiple times, and gave a round of applause for her Japanese opponent.
The sportsmanship Petecio showed moved many fans including Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa.
“Amazing sportsmanship in display. Many Japanese including me are moved to see Nesthy Petecio hugging and congratulating IRIE Sena,” Koshikawa tweeted.
“Great athletes are always fair, polite and gracious even to an opponent. Huge respect for Ms. Petecio!”
Gracious in defeat, Petecio afterward faced an emotional Irie and gave her a huge hug as the 29-year-old boxer hailing from Davao del Sur settled for the silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the Kokugikan Arena.
It was during the awarding ceremony–the Philippine flag being raised once more—where Petecio, holding the silver medal up high, burst into tears.
Petecio later revealed that it was tears out of her frustration.
“Naiyak po ako kasi nanghihinayang po ako para sa mga coaches ko kasi nga inaalay ko sana [sa kanila] ‘yong [panalo]” said Petecio.
“Gusto ko sana ialay ‘yong gold kay coach Nolito [“Boy” Velasco] po pero… ayon kinulang po tayo. Pero ginawa ko po yung best sa taas ng ring. Nakita niyo. Humabol po ako, humabol po ako.”
Meanwhile, Koshikawa also extended congratulations to Filipino flyweight boxer Carlo Paalam for advancing in the semis and taking a sure spot for the Olympic medal.
“A huge accomplishment on his Olympic debut. Excited to witness his amazing talent and power in coming #OlympicGames matches,” the Japanese official said.
Boxing action continues Thursday, Aug. 5, as Paalam clashes with Japan’s Ryomei Tanaka at 1:30 p.m. while middleweight bet Eumir Felix Marcial takes on top-seeded fighter Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine at 2:03 p.m.