The national team for fencing will train for two months in Ormoc City after the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) finally approved Wednesday the request of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) to let the squad prepare for this year’s Asian Championship.
Amat Canlas, head coach of the national fencing team, said that PFA officials and counterparts from the PSC met via an online conference together with Ormoc City officials as they discussed details of the training camp.
The training camp is set February 6 to April 6, and Ormoc was chosen since fencing federation president Richard Gomez – a former champion fencer – is the city mayor.
“Tuloy na kami sa Ormoc, nag-meeting na ang PSC and PFA. This is part of the training of athletes for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and also for this year’s Southeast Asian Games na din,” said Canlas.
A total of six Filipino fencers led by 2019 SEA Games gold medalist Jylyn Nicanor have made it to the national team that will aim for a spot in the Tokyo Games via the said OQT on April 15 to 22 in Seoul, South Korea.
Nicanor won gold in the women’s saber event during the biennial meet here.
Also part of the national team are Chris Jester Concepcion in men’s saber, Hanniel Abella and Noelito Jose in women’s and men’s epee, Nathaniel Perez and Samantha Catantan in men’s and women’s foil events.
Concepcion and Abella earned silver medals in their respective events during the SEA Games, while Jose settled with a bronze medal. The 18-year-old Catantan is the reigning Asian under-23 champion.
With the exception of Catantan, who is now in the US as part of the Penn State University, all five are expected to join the training camp with some members of the senior and junior’s national team as sparring partners.
“In total 21 ang kasama sa training camp 16 athletes and five coaches, kasi kailangang magsama ng sparring partner. May mga sasama din from the junior’s national team but on their own expense sila,” said Canlas.
Marc Velasco, the National Training Director who heads the PSC side during the meeting, said that they reviewed the health protocols for the Ormoc training camp in line with the government guidelines.
“Ang sa PSC yun lang naman ang tinignan namin, yung guideline that they’ll implement sa training camp. Importante kasi na masunod yung protocols ng ating gobyerno,” said Velasco.
Canlas said that he is set to meet with the athletes to finalize their schedule before they leave for Ormoc.
“Actually emergency meeting ang pinatawag ko sa mga kasama kasi ilang weeks lang aalis na kami. Of course need sundin ang protocols, kaya seven days before ang alis mag-quarantine na muna kami dito sa Manila before kami pumunta ng Ormoc,” he said.
In the OQT, only the champion from the six individual events will advance to the Tokyo Olympics. The last Filipino fencer to qualify in the Games was Water Torres during the 1992 Barcelona Games in Spain.