National fencing team scheduled to compete in Olympic qualifiers next year
Philippine Fencing Association president Richard Gomez said they have proposed to the Philippine Sports Commission to extend the contracts of Korean coaches Seungjun Kim and Sangsun Park since six Filipino fencers are preparing for next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The contracts of Kim and Park, gold medalist during the 2006 Asian Games, originally expired last March, but Gomez said they were able to get a PSC approval to extend it until August 31.
Now, they hope to get another six-month extension.
“For now until August lang yung contracts nung dalawang Korean coaches natin,” said Gomez. “But I think the PSC will take it up in their next meeting.”
“Of course maganda kung ma-extend pa uli sila kasi sayang naman. We have six fencers na magko-compete sa Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and malaking bagay kung ma-retain natin sila (Korean coaches),” added Gomez, a member of the epee national team that bagged the gold medal during the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here.
Gomez, the mayor of Ormoc City, said it’s crucial to sustain the service of the Koreans since fencers Noelito Jose, Chris Jester Concepcion, Nathaniel Perez, Hanniel Abella, Samantha Catantan and Jylyn Nicanor are set to see action in the Asian Championship next year in Korea, which is an OQT.
The event was originally scheduled last April but like other OQTs for other disciplines, it was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Tokyo Olympics has also been reset to July 2021.
Amat Canlas, head coach of the fencing national team, said that having the Koreans really improved the Filipino fencers’ performance as Nicanor won the gold medal in the saber women’s individual event during the SEA Games here last year.
The squad of Abella, Mickyle Bustos, Anna Estimada and Harlene Raguin also ruled the women’s epee team in the biennial meet.
“Malaking tulong talaga, kaya nga we’re hoping na ma-approve,” said Canlas, who provides the program for the national team members during the lockdown.
Abella and Jose are currently training with the Korean coaches since all four are staying in the athletes’ quarters since March at the Philippine Sports Complex in Pasig City (formerly ULTRA).
The four, together with 20 other athletes from other sports, need to vacate the facility as the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has ordered its disinfection to assure the safety of athletes.
The complex, particularly the basketball court, was transformed as one of the medical facilities of the Department of Health (DOH) for COVID-19 patients since April.
“Actually pag-uusapan pa namin yun, wala pa naman kaming natatanggap na memo… siyempre ang gusto namin is to maximize yung service sa atin nung Korean coaches natin,” said Canlas.