After winning gold in world championships this past weekend, gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio are looking to repeat their success in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games starting next month.
The 19-year-old Yulo won the first gold medal for the Philippines in gymnastics, while the 27-year-old Petecio outpointed her Russian opponent to bring home another gold from the squared circle.
Yulo and Petecio, along with decorated pole vaulter EJ Obiena, were presented to members of the media Tuesday evening at the Century Park Hotel in Manila to talk about their recent success.
Obiena won gold in the Summer Universiade last July.
The trio took home a combined 3.65 million from the Philippine Sports Commission, and additional monetary awards from the MVP Sports Foundation.
Yulo and Petecio, who both came from poverty, are both grateful that sports have given them a way out.
Petecio, a native from Davao, talked about how she used to live in makeshift homes with tarps for her roof, before making it to Manila, with a little help from then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Petecio said she almost quit boxing after a controversial split decision loss against Yin Jun Hua in the semis of the 2018 Asian Games. But she found her stride and bounced back in a big way. National team coach Nolito Velasco noted Petecio's strength.
"It because her punches are has hard as a man's," shared Velasco.
Even though she has not qualified for the 2020 Summer Games, Petecio hopes the SEA Games can provide her the best training. The boxer will have a chance to make it to Tokyo in the Olympic Qualifiers in China from February 3-13.
"I am ready to claim the gold," said Petecio.
Yulo, who grew up on the streets of Malate, Manila, has a chance to win gold in as many as five events in front of his family and neighbors.
Gymnastics will be held at the newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, a stone's throw away from his family's home.
Under Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya, Yulo will begin training for the meet when he returns to Japan on October 18.
"We will try our best everyday for training," said Kugimiya. "He can get seven medals, but not maybe seven golds. SEA Games may be also used a preparation for the Olympics."
The SEA Games will tell whether Yulo has a chance to end the Philippine's drought of winning an Olympic gold.