VOVINAM champion Hergie Bacyadan has returned to boxing as one of the country’s top hopefuls to qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics.
“She’s a secret weapon,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino of the 28-year-old Bacyadan, who won gold in the World Vovinam Championships in Ho Chi Minh City over the weekend.
“Bacyadan is a very strong contender for a podium finish [in boxing]. With her power and skills, she could even win gold in Paris,’’ said the Tagaytay City mayor who’s also the president of PhilCyling. “You should see her fight. Hergie is gifted atop the ring.”
Tolentino has been working for Bacyadan’s return to boxing and like all other boxers—except for light heavyweight Eumir Felix Marcial who has qualified with his silver medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games—she has to go through a box off called by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines in January.
If the Kalinga fighter Baycadan survives the box off, she has two chances to qualify for the Paris Games at the qualifiers in Busto Arsizio (Italy) from February 29 to March 12 and in Bangkok from May 23 to June 5.
Bacyadan was dominant in her campaign in Ho Chi Minh where she easily beat Cambodia’s Sophy Sok with crushing blows to the head in the semifinal before dominating Russia’s Mariana Avdeenko in the final of the women’s – 66 kgs class, 10-0.
She started as a sanda practitioner in wushu in 2018 and made the shift to boxing a year after and won gold at the Xiamen Grand Slam Asian Boxing Championships in China.
Bacyadan, according to Tolentino, stands as an Olympic hopeful alongside Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Carlo Paalam, who also has to go through a box off for the bantamweight slot, and Nesthy Petecio, who’ll go directly to the qualifiers as the sole bet in women’s featherweight.
“We are looking at least four Olympic qualifiers from boxing,” Tolentino said. “That gives us better chances of winning more medals in Paris.”
Bacyadan made a quick shift to vovinam in 2021 when Vietnam scrapped women’s welterweight in boxing at the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi. She clinched silver in vovinam at the Cambodia SEA Games last May.
Vovinam is an indigenous Vietnam martial art but unlike boxing, it involves kicks, knees, elbows and wrestling.