Out Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio won the silver medal in the women’s featherweight boxing event at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo on Tuesday, and she dedicated the win to her country and the LGBTQ+ community.
"I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community," an emotional Petecio said after losing the gold medal bout to Sena Irie of Team Japan. "Go forward, fight! This win is also for you."
Petecio later told ESPN she cried on the podium because she had "wanted to dedicate the gold to coach Nolito [Velasco]" but had to settle for the silver instead. Still, she was pleased with her overall effort.
"We came up short, but I did my best in the ring," she continued.
The gold medal was won by Tokyo resident and hometown favorite Irie in a unanimous decision from all five judges, although the bout was much closer than the scoring would indicate. Petecio’s all-time record against Irie is now three losses against just one win.
This is the first Olympic women’s boxing medal for the Philippines and the first Olympic boxing medal overall for the nation since 1996. Her victory guarantees superstar status for Petecio when she returns home to the boxing-crazed country, and she made sure to include her family and fans in the win.
"It’s not just for me," she had said her earlier victory in the semi-finals. "It’s for my country and the Filipinos that prayed for me."
Petecio overcame many hardships during her childhood that included collecting chicken guano that her father would sell as manure. She started boxing at the age of 7 and was discovered at the age of 11 after taking part in a fight where she defeated an older, bigger, and more experienced boy. Her win eventually earned her a chance at bigger bouts and an eventual spot on Team Philippines.
While the lesbian boxer has already bagged one medal, she is still focused on bringing home something more, hopefully at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.
"We’re still chasing the gold," Petecio said. "We’re not done."