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PH fencers ready for Asian Games stint

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Having won no medal yet in fencing in the Asian Games, eight Filipino athletes carrying the national colors here aim to hit the goal.

“The goal is to win. We want to make history,” said national coach Rolando Canlas in an interview during the team’s practice session at the Jakarta Convention Center on Sunday.

The Philippines will begin its medal campaign on Monday, with Samantha Kyle Catantan and Maxine Isabel Esteban entering in the women’s foil individual event.

The 17-year-old Catantan bagged the silver in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She won her second straight MVP award as a member of the seven-time champion University of the East juniors team in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

Seeing action on Tuesday are Nathaniel Perez, Brennan Louie and Michael Nicanor in the men’s foil individual while Hanniel Abella will compete in the women’s individual epee event on Wednesday.

The team event in women’s foil will be played on August 23 and the men’s team foil event on August 24.

“I believe that our athletes are capable of winning. They are well-prepared,” said Canlas, who also coaches the UE fencing team.

In preparation for the Asian Games, the national fencers trained for three weeks in Paris, France.

In February, the team of Catantan, Esteban, Maricar Matienzo and Anica Abaquin won the bronze medal in the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships held from Feb. 24 to March 4 at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Last April, the team went to Italy for the Verona Cup Junior and Cadets World Fencing Championships where Catantan was ranked among the Top 26.

In June, the fencers joined the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand and last month saw them compete in the World Championships in Wuxi, China.

Catantan, Esteban and Perez have also competed in the 2017 World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

“We are very thankful that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has given our team the opportunity to compete abroad. These top-level tournaments are what our athletes need to improve their skills,” Canlas said.

“Aside from funding our trips, we appreciate the assistance provided by the PSC-Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) to the athletes,” Canlas added. (PNA)