TOKYO – Irish Magno let her fists do the talking against an outclassed opponent from Kenya in the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday, the day after Carlos Yulo couldn’t get his act together in men’s gymnastics.
Cris Nievarez was fifth—and out of the semifinals race—in his quarterfinals stint in rowing’s men’s singles sculls, but no one’s bashing the 21-year-old Olympic first-timer who traces his humble beginnings from Atimonan, Quezon.
Magno outclassed Kenya’s Christine Ongare on Sunday, scoring a convincing 5-0 victory in the women’s flyweight bout to become the second Filipino to advance to the round-of-16 of the Tokyo Olympics boxing competitions.
“Irish pretty much was comfortable with the tactics that she used during sparring,” Team Philippines coach Don Abnett said. “She punched and moved so well, using bread-and-butter punches [head and body punches].”
“Laban lang po (Just fight),” Magno said in an interview at the Mixed Zone (interview zone) of the Kokugikan Stadium. “Focused lang and huwag muna tayong mag-aim high (Just stay focused, don’t aim high yet).”
Magno takes on Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong, who also advanced to the last 16 following her victory over Algeria’s Roumaysa Boulam, also via a lopsided 5-0 score, on Sunday.
Nesthy Petecio opened the country’s campaign in boxing on Saturday with her own 5-0 domination of the Republic of the Congo’s Marcelat Sakobi Matshu in the featherweight class.
Nievarez, meanwhile, has an entire Olympic future ahead of him.
“This will be a major learning experience for Cris,” said Magnum Membrere, a former college basketball star who turned to rowing and is now treasurer of the Philippines Rowing Association.
“He’s young and he’s determined,” added Membrere of Nievarez, the only Southeast Asian in the men’s single sculls event.
“Malaking bagay ang experience na nakuha ko dito sa Tokyo Olympics, sabi nga ni Sir Magnum, learning experience (The experience I got here in Tokyo Olympics is a big factor, as Sir Magnum said, learning experience),” Nievarez said.
“Nakita ko na rin and mga strength ng mga kalaban at alam ko na kung anong aspects ang kailangan i-improve (I have also seen the strengths of the opponents and I already know what aspects need to be improved),” he added.
Yulo, meanwhile, has turned his focus to the vault finals where he has a chance at landing a medal.
Yulo, 21, was a disappointment in his pet floor exercise, finishing in 44th place in the qualifying phase with a 13.566 effort. He was way off the top 8 who will battle for the gold in the event where he won the world championship gold medal in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2019.
“Nagulat nga po ako (I was surprised),” Yulo said of his performance in the fault event. “Hindi ko po alam na nakapasok ako (I didn’t know that I qualified).”
Come Monday, Rio 2016 weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarder Margielyn Didal opens their gold medal campaign.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Diaz said of her chances at the gold medal in her weight division where she will face world-record holder Liao Qiuyun of China.
Liao, at 26 four years younger than Diaz, owns world records in the clean and jerk (129 kgs) and total lift (227).
Didal gets the opportunity for the gold medal on Monday in skateboarding, one of four sports making their debut in the Games—the others are surfing, karate and sports climbing.
“She’s alright and ready,” Didal’s coach, Daniel Bautista told BusinessMirror. “She’s just chilling about.”
But Didal has to contend with world Nos. 1 and 2 Pamela Rosa and Rayssa Leal of Brazil, No. 3 Aori Nishimura of Japan, Leticia Bufoni also of Brazilian and Momiji Nishiya are also the host country in the street event.