SEA Games prep next for Filipino fencers

Published May 4, 2021, 2:26 PM

by Waylon Galvez

fencing sea games
In this file photo, Philippines’ Haniel Abella, left, and Singapore’s Abdul Rahman Kiria face off during the fencing individual epee finals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games at World Trade Center last December. (MB File Photo)

Fresh from a stint in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the national fencing team is veering its focus on the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam as plans are being finalized from the selection process of the squad to the training camp that will be held here and abroad.

Coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. of the national fencing team said there is already a program for SEA Games, which includes the tryout for aspiring members of the Philippine Team this July in Ormoc City.

Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) chief and Ormoc City mayor Richard Gomez has agreed to host the weeklong SEA Games qualifying tournament on July 3 to 11 at Ormoc City Superdome.

“Now mag-prepare na kami for the SEA Games. Nagawa na ang program, pero pagde-desisyunan pa and to be finalized ng PFA (Now we’re preparing for the SEA Games. We already have a program to be formalized by the PFA),” said Canlas during the online PSA Forum Tuesday, May 4.

The tournament for the selection process will start July 3 and 4 for the first leg of individual men’s and women’s foil, epee and saber. The second leg is July 7 and 8, while the third leg is July 10 and 11.

On the 11th, there will also be a selection process for the men’s and women’s team epee.

The said event is expected to attract fencers here and abroad, including Filipino fencing sensation Samantha Catantan, the freshman from Penn State University who already booked her flight back to the Philippines.

“Kaka-bili ko lang ng ticket (I just bought my ticket), two months ako (in the Philippines),” said Catantan, recently named the Penn State U MVP who won a bronze medal in the US NCAA and made another bronze medal finish in the OQT, at the same online forum.

The national team hopes to surpass its performance in the last SEA Games here when it won two gold medals courtesy of Jylyn Nicanor in the women’s individual saber, and the women’s epee team of Hanniel Abella, Mickyle Bustos, Anna Estimada and Harlene Raguin.

The national team also bagged two silvers and seven bronze medals during the biennial meet.

Canlas said that part of the national team preparation for the Vietnam SEA Games set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 is a training camp abroad, one in South Korea and another one in Hong Kong.

However, if the number of COVID-19 quarantine days in South Korea (14 days) and in Hong Kong (21 days) remains in September or October, another option is to have Korean fencers come in Ormoc City for training camp.

“Originally the plan is to train in Korea for one month, and then before the SEAG, two weeks in Hong Kong,” said Canlas. “Pero nung naka-usap ko yung mga coaches (But when I talked to the coaches) from Korea and Hong Kong in the OQT, nalaman ko na mahaba quarantine days nila (I learned that they have longer quarantine days).”

“Plan B is to send Korean fencers in Ormoc para may makalaban kami malalakas (then we’ll have quality bouts against better fencers),” said Canlas, adding that also part of the preparation is to join the Taipei Under-23 tournament and the Taipei Open before the SEA Games.