TOKYO — Top medal hopes Caloy Yulo and Nesthy Petecio lead out Team Philippines in the first full day of competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nesthy Petecio makes his debut in the Olympic stage when she takes on Marcelat Sakobi Matshu of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a women's featherweight match that lifts the curtains on the boxing competitions.
The world No, 7 is expected to easily hurdle the round-of-32 match set at 11 a.m. (10 a.m. Manila time) at the Kokugikan Arena, but a win will set her up for an early face-off against top-seed Lin Yu-ting of Chinese-Taipei.
Pinay boxer unfazed
Petecio and her coach Nolito Velasco sounded unfazed.
“I am more than ready,” Petecio, the reigning world champion, said on Friday. “Our coaches have reviewed videos of my opponent and they have prepared a strategy. All I need to do is to follow instructions when I climb the ring.”
Flyweight Irish Magno sees action a day later against Kenya's Christine Ongare, followed by Carlo Paalam’s men’s flyweight debut against Ireland’s Brendan Irvine on Monday.
Another medal favorite, Eumir Felix Marcial, drew a first-round bye as the No. 3 seed in the middleweight class.
Yulo, the reigning world champion in the floor exercise, begins his campaign in the qualifiers at Ariake Gymnastics Centre beginning at 10 a.m.
The 21-year old has largely taken a low profile since arriving in this city, mostly keeping to himself in his room at the Athletes Village where hours away from training are spent reviewing his routine and those of his rivals, mainly Russia's Nikita Nagornny.
The multi-titled Russian stands as his biggest rival for the gold.
“We scientifically studied Nikita’s most recent performance and Caloy stands a good chance,” said gymnastics association president Cynthia Carrion. "[Nagornny] did 6.6 in his last competition. If Nikita does 6.6 here and Caloy makes 6.8, then Caloy’s done it."
From the four Filipino athletes seeing action in Day One, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa faces the most daunting challenge of all as he takes on world No. 1 Jang Jun of Korea in his Olympic debut in the men's 56 kg round of 16.
The match is set to be fought at around noon (11 a.m. Manila time) at the Makuhari Messe Hall A.
Swimmer Remedy Rule caps the Philippine contingent's first full day of action by competing in Heat 2 of the women's 100-meter butterfly at 8 p.m. The top 16 from a field of 34 advance to the semifinals at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
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