Filipino fencers to target Tokyo slots
Five of six Filipino fencers are set to fly for Uzbekistan with the hopes of earning a spot in the Tokyo Olympics via the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for for Asia and Oceania on April 24-26 in Tashkent.
Led by Jylyn Nicanor and Hanniel Abella, Southeast Asian Games gold medalists here in 2019, all five fencers had a rigorous bubble training camp for almost three months in Ormoc City.
Samantha Catantan, who had an unforgettable campaign in the US NCAA Fencing Championship as a freshman at Penn State University and recently in the Junior/Cadet World Championship in Egypt, will also join the national team in the OQT. National coach Amat Canlas said all six fencers have a legitimate chance for booking passage to the Tokyo Olympics.
“They really gave everything to get back to that competitive level after not having proper physical training last year because of the COVOD19 pandemic,” Canlas said. “I know they’ll give it their best, everything they got in the OQT. They will fight for flag and country. I always remind our fencers to stay focused, stick to our strategy. We are hoping and praying for a good result.”
Assistant coach Arman Bernal will join Canlas in Uzbekistan.
The country’s representatives in the men’s and women’s foil category are Perez and Catantan, in sabre are Concepcion and Nicanor, while Jose and Abella will see action in epee.
Abella won the gold medal with the women’s epee team in the 30th SEA Games, and took home the silver in the individual category, while Nicanor bagged gold in the women’s sabre individual event.
To their credit, Concepcion won silver medal in men’s individual saber, while Catantan, Jose and Perez earned bronze medal in their respective SEAG events – women’s individual foil, men’s individual epee and men’s individual foil.
The national fencers will try to end a long drought for the country and put a Filipino athlete in the Summer Games fencing competition. Walter Torres saw action during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, making him the last local fencer to cross swords with an opponent in the quadrennial meet.