WITH her push to book a spot in the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, national boxing team member Nesthy Petecio laments the lost opportunity, but vows to make up for it as she gears up to resume full training and preparation.

One of the country’s top bets in the sport, Ms. Petecio, 28, had a chance to qualify outright for the Games last March in the Asian qualifiers in Jordan but fell short after bowing out in the quarterfinals.

Despite that, she is still determined to make it to Tokyo, looking to do well in the final world Olympic qualifier in Paris in June.

Ms. Petecio, however, admitted that the long pandemic-forced break from training by the national team has made her push tougher.

“Had our training continued last year, it would have been a big help. Unfortunately, our training stopped for months. I went six months, I think, without [the ideal] training [needed],” said Ms. Petecio in Filipino on The Chasedown television program last Saturday.

She went on to say that she managed to train with her teammates and coaches virtually, and later on got to put in some individual work in a community gym in her hometown of Digos, Davao Del Sur, but Ms. Petecio said nothing beats a sustained face-to-face training with the entire team.

It is something she intends to take full advantage of in the scheduled “bubble” training they will be having at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, set to begin this weekend.

The bubble is geared towards helping the boxing, taekwondo, and karate teams get back in the swing of training as they make a late push to qualify for the Olympics in July.

The teams will be holed up in the facility in a controlled environment, under strict health and safety protocols to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

“I’m excited to get back to training in the bubble. Immediate concern is to shed the pounds I gained in the past months and be back in game shape,” said the featherweight fighter.

“I don’t see any problem going back to training. I’m ready to put in the work and my coaches know that. I really want to get a slot in the Olympics. So if I have to triple work to achieve it, I will do that,” she added.

Prior to having it tough in 2020, Ms. Petecio had a banner 2019, winning gold medals in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships and Southeast Asian Games.

Filipino athletes who have qualified so far for the Tokyo Games are boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, and gymnast Caloy Yulo.

Local sports officials are targeting to send at least 15 athletes for this year’s Olympics. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo