When Nesthy Petecio punched her way to what the Philippines hoped would be its second Olympic gold medal in history, she held in her fists the high hopes of a nation uplifted by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold.
But despite her best efforts, Nesthy bagged the silver, not the gold, in the Tokyo Olympics’ women’s featherweight final last Aug. 3.
Pasensya na po kayo, silver lang nakayanan ko. Ginawa ko po lahat kanina sa taas ng ring. Salamat po ng marami sa dasal at supporta niyo. Higit sa lahat sa diyos! At safe kami pareho ng kalaban ko. Babalik po tayo Mas Malakas. ?❤? pic.twitter.com/7WJxrNHb9c— Nesthy Petecio ??? (@nesthypetecio11) August 3, 2021
“Pasensya na po kayo, silver lang nakayanan ko. Ginawa ko po lahat kanina sa taas ng ring. Salamat po ng marami sa dasal at supporta niyo. Higit sa lahat sa Diyos! At safe kami pareho ng kalaban ko. Babalik po tayo mas malakas,” Petecio said in her Twitter account right after receiving her silver.
However, it was not lost on a grateful nation that Nesthy’s silver also made history for the Philippines. She is the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal for boxing.
That feat glittered like gold.
Sports teaches us that whether in the boxing ring, the pool, the coarse tracks, the smooth bowling alley, or life itself, we don’t always finish first even if we are the best bet.
How many of us have lost out to our closest rivals for the top prize — whether in school or at work? How many of us didn’t get that promotion everybody thought was in the bag for us?
Even Miss Universe favorites don’t always get the crown, and rarely, if ever, is number two reversed to number one as in Miss Universe’s Pia Wurtzbach’s case. Usually, when we are declared to be in second spot — that’s an immovable force.
But it is a precious place to be in. A place of honor. Those who take second place like a good warrior win the gold for honor.
In sports and even in life, it can get disappointing to come so close to the top, only to lose it to someone else. But in reality, it’s not a winner-take-all situation, especially when people see that second placers give it their all.
Greg Banzon, COO of food giant Century Pacific Food Inc. was one of De La Salle’s track athletes during his student days. He continues to compete in triathlons and marathons and has won various gold medals in his age group.
Like his brothers Jomari and Rene, Greg credits the discipline and the endurance he mastered and mustered as a varsity athlete for his winning form — whether in the boardroom or the running field.
“In sports and even in life, it can get disappointing to come so close to the top, only to lose it to someone else. But in reality, it’s not a ‘winner-take-all’ situation. Especially, when people see that second placers give it their all and push the winner to a higher level of excellence in the process.”
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Greg has not always won the gold. “I used my second-place finishes and similar disappointments as fuel to all the hard work and commitment I needed to get me the gold.”
“And though most everyone remembers gold medalists, the people dearest to you and to whom you are dearest, will always feel proud of your silver or bronze medal performance. Or even just having competed. I think an entire nation is proud of Nesthy’s exciting journey. It matters not that she did not conquer the world, what matters is that she won the hearts of the Filipino people,” concludes Greg.
It is in giving one’s best that one already wins! Winning the gold embodies the public’s expectation and it can enslave the athlete. It is the same in life. It is good to aim high but only in so far as it makes you more human.
On the other hand, cager-turned-television-host Chris Tiu says: “Disappointments are constant in sports. From preparation, competition to making career choices, there will always be pain in different forms and degrees. It requires a change in mindset, an acceptance that one will certainly experience defeat (easier said than done). The beauty of it is that these moments, if handled correctly and positively, make us tougher and wiser, allowing us to become better athletes and better people.”
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Cory Villafania, my former class adviser at the Assumption Convent, knows how it is to counsel disappointed students. Teacher Cory still conducts retreats, and is a life coach to many — even beyond the school walls.
She says, “It is in giving one’s best that one already wins! Winning the gold embodies the public’s expectation and it can enslave the athlete. It is the same in life. It is good to aim high but only in so far as it makes you more human. When it begins to dehumanize you, drop it!”
Failure is an essential part of getting better. This will pave the way for reflecting on future plans for success in one’s gold hunting journey. Life goes on after a defeat.
Psychiatrist Dr. Angela Halili-Jao gives this expert advice to those who don’t win the top spot in the race.
“Blaming defeat on others will delay the process of letting go of the feeling of being defeated. Acceptance of the defeat will allow (you) to focus on the continuing quest for the gold medal.”
“Failure is an essential part of getting better,” Dr. Jao stresses. “This will pave the way for reflecting on future plans for success in one’s gold hunting journey. Life goes on after a defeat. Positive thinking will surely help.”
Dr. Jao doffs her hat off to Nesthy for the way she accepted her silver finish. To many, a silver victory is the hardest victory to take with a smile.
“Hats off to Nesthy Petecio for handling defeat gracefully.”
Technically, it was a defeat. But the way she handled her second-place finish gave her gold marks in many score cards as well. We can learn from Nesthy. Victory comes in many colors — gold, silver and bronze — but humanity is always gold.
Sharing the gold
Few in this world would like to share the stage after a hard-fought battle. And yet that is exactly what Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi did for the gold medal in the men’s high jump at the Tokyo Olympics.
Barshim and Tamberi shared the gold medal in the men’s high jump at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last week. They both cleared the 2.37-meter mark in the finals. But neither cleared 2.39 meters, which is the Olympic record.
According to online news sources, when they couldn’t clear the mark, an official came over to talk about going forward with a jump-off to determine gold. Barshim took the initiative and asked if they could instead share the gold medal instead of making an attempt for the 2.39 meters. The Olympic official considered his request, and said, yes, it was possible.
The true essence of sportsmanship.— Gavan Reilly is out of office (@gavreilly) August 1, 2021
?? Gianmarco Tamberi and ?? Mutaz Barshim are approached about a high-jump tiebreaker jump-off… and agree to share the Olympic title.#Athletics #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/HyyJU0MtT3
Video shows Tamberi leaping like a child into the arms of a beaming Barshim. Tamberi had suffered serious leg injury in the Rio Olympics in 2016, and was most probably the underdog. By sharing the gold with him, Barshim was being very magnanimous, indeed.
In his Instagram account, Barshim said, “The decision to share the Olympic gold was one of pure emotion, respect, and love for my fellow competitor. I know how much the gold means. The opportunity to share this is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
The euphoric Tamberi, also in his Instagram account, gushed, “It’s the best feeling ever. We passed through the worst possible together, we got up together, and now we won together.”
Barshim concludes by saying, “I hope we both inspired people that sharing and supporting our fellow man/woman is one of the most powerful gifts we have.”