MANILA, Philippines -- Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio expects to run into her Chinese rival, Yin Junhua, in the world qualifying event next year ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
This, as neither boxer could secure their spots during the Asia-Oceania qualifying tournament last March in Jordan. Petecio entered as the top seed, but bowed out in the quarterfinals to Japan's Sena Irie. Junhua, meanwhile, lost to eventual champion Lin Yu-ting of Chinese-Taipei, also in the quarters.
"Nag-usap nga kami after ng qualifiers po, kasi sabay kami sa doping area," Petecio recalled during a recent interview on Radyo Pilipinas.
"Sabi niya na 'di tayo nagkita dito, pero baka sa world championship tayo magkita," she added.
It was Junhua who ended Petecio's run in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, when she won via split decision in the first round. The result was roundly criticized by Philippine boxing officials, even as Junhua went on to win the gold medal.
Petecio was glad to see that she had made a memorable impression on the Chinese boxer.
"Kumbaga, hindi naman po ako nayabangan sa dating na 'yun. Kumbaga natuwa po ako," said Petecio, who won featherweight gold in last year's world championships.
"Kasi inisip ko na tinitingnan din niya ako. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam na may tao din palang tinitingnan akong makaharap," she added.
Petecio is hoping to return to training soon, as she is eyeing the world qualifying tournament next year which offers four slots to the Tokyo Games.
Even with a prolonged break from action because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Petecio believes she can regain her fitness with three to four months of hard training. The more difficult part, she said, will be to maintain her self-confidence and mental fortitude during the competition.
"May tiwala po ako sa coaches ko diyan. Sa ganyang aspeto ko, sa coaches ko na po pinagkakatiwala," she said, when asked about her skills, speed, and power.
"Ang kalaban ko na lang po talaga, 'yung sarili ko po talaga. Kasi kahit sobrang physically fit na po ako, tapos natatalo ng isipan ko. So kumbaga, nawawala po talaga," she added.