Filipino fencer Sam Catantan suffered a heartbreaking 15-8 defeat to May Tieu of the US in the round-of-32 Tuesday, April 6, in the 2021 World Cadets/Juniors Fencing Championship in Cairo, Egypt.
Catantan’s 20th place finish was a big improvement from her 2019 stint in the tournament when she ended at 96th spot among 160-plus participants. Last year, the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As a 17-year-old participant in 2019, Catantan placed 16th overall in the cadets category of the tournament, which led to Penn State’s offer for a spot in its fencing team with the Nittany Lions.
She was on a seven-game win streak when foil action in the juniors category started, which included six wins in the pool play that gave her the No. 17 seed going to the knockout round.
The 19-year-old freshman from Penn State University won 15-10 against 48th seed Almila Birce Durukan of Turkey in the round-of-64 women’s action.
Catantan made history last February when she became the first homegrown Filipino to play for a Division 1 school in the US NCAA. She went undefeated with a 20-0 record in pool play of the event that gave her the No. 1 spot in the semifinal round.
She lost to teammate Lodovica Bicego 15-14 in the Final Four.
Fencing national team coach Amat Canlas said it was still a good performance and experience for Cantantan in the world championship.
“Not a bad campaign for Sam in the world championship, she finished No. 17, she was able to improve from her last world championship finish in 2019,” Canlas told Manila Bulletin in a message exchange.
“Now the focus is on the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, that’s the most important event.”
Catantan will join five other members of the national team in the April 26-27 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for this year’s Tokyo Olympics in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, US-based Filipino fencers Annika Santos of Forest Hills Central High School and Daena Talavera of Clayton High School placed 58th and 69th in the same event, respectively.
Lance Tan, a sophomore at Sacred Heart University who also competed in the recently concluded US NCAA tournament, is still playing at posting time and he is in the Round-of-32 in men’s juniors foil event.
Jian Miguel Bautista of Ateneo and a member of the national team training pool, is set to compete in the juniors men’s epee category on Thursday.