Australian coach ready to work on breakthrough gold for PH boxers

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2021 04:51 PM

Filipino boxers won three medals in the Tokyo Olympics: two silvers from Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, and a bronze from Eumir Marcial.
Filipino boxers won three medals in the Tokyo Olympics: two silvers from Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, and a bronze from Eumir Marcial. Photo courtesy of Eumir Marcial on Instagram (eumirmarcial).

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine boxing team's result in the Tokyo Olympics was "absolutely fantastic," but the coaches are now ready to do what is necessary for the boxers to obtain a breakthrough gold medal.

Two boxers -- Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam -- wound up as silver medalists, while a third -- Eumir Marcial -- took home a bronze. Their three-medal haul assured that the Philippines had its best-ever Olympic performance, after Hidilyn Diaz won the country's maiden gold medal.

"We were hoping for a medal of any color. To get two silvers and a bronze was absolutely fantastic," said Don Abnett, one of the coaches of the national boxing team.

"Obviously, we would have loved to get a gold, (that) would have been great. But I'm really happy with the performance of all of them," he added.

Only flyweight Irish Magno did not reach the podium, but Abnett was still proud of her performance. Magno reached the quarterfinals, where she lost to Thailand's Jutamas Jitpong.

According to Abnett, Magno showed plenty of improvement during their training camp, held in Thailand.

"She probably had the best performance in the sparring. She was just unlucky with her competition," the Australian coach noted.

The boxers are currently in quarantine in Tagaytay after their arrival from Tokyo on Monday, and they plan to get some time to rest before plunging back into training.

The boxers will have a full schedule in the coming months as they will prepare for the world championships, the Southeast Asian Games, and the Asian Games. The Paris Olympics, of course, is only three years away.

Abnett said they will study the team's performances in Tokyo to determine what needs to be done for their upcoming competitions.

"There were a few mistakes that were made. We need to get back and sit down with the team and the coaches and recap what went right and what went wrong, and eliminate the things we didn't do so well, and make sure the next steps are positive steps forward," he said. 

Abnett has been working with the Philippine boxing team since 2019, when he was hired by the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) as a consultant. He previously coached the Australian boxing team in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics. 

While he has been given plenty of credit for elevating the performance of the Filipino boxers, Abnett said it was a "team effort."

"There's nothing wrong with the coaching staff in the Philippines," he said. "They got a great bunch of coaches. I don't like to take the credit for the success we've had, it's always been a team effort."

He also hailed the Filipino boxers for their determination and dedication, as shown during the lead-up to the Tokyo Games where they trained for months in Thailand.

"Their characters are great," Abnett said.

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