Sam Catantan arriving for fencing team tryouts

Published June 2, 2021, 6:36 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Samantha Catantan, right, with Philippine fencing team coach Amat Canlas during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (Photo from Amat Canlas)

Filipino fencing star Samantha Catantan is set to arrive from the US this month to compete in the national team tryout on July 3 to 11 for the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Catantan left the country for the US last Dec. 31 as a freshman student-athlete of Penn State University with the school’s fencing team. She is set to return hom on June 20 after a competition in Virginia.

“I’m excited to go back home, been away for almost six months,” said Catantan, a former stalwart at University of the East. “I’m excited to see my family, my friends, teammates with the national team, and my coaches.”

In her first year at Penn State, Catantan was named the fencing team’s MVP after she earned a bronze medal in the US NCAA Fencing Championship last March highlighted by a 20-0 record during pool play.

Last April, Catantan missed out on earning a spot in this year’s Tokyo Olympics but still settled with a bronze medal during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The event in Virginia is the National American Cup set June 6 and 7 in Richmond, which has attracted more than 160 participants. Fellow Fil-Ams Daena Talavera and Annika Santos are also seeing action in the tournament.

The 19-year-old Catantan said the main reason she is coming home is for the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) National Open Fencing Championships at the Superdome in Ormoc City.

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

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

“I’ll be competing in the National Open because that’s the requirement of the association, and we have to follow. It’s going to be an exciting event because it’s for the SEA Games,” said Catantan.

“I’m looking forward to competing in the SEA Games, I hope to do better in Vietnam,” added Catantan, who settled with a bronze medal in the biennial meet here after losing to Singapore rival Amita Berthier.

Amat Canlas, the head coach of the national team, said he expects top Filipino fencers here and abroad to compete in the National Open, and form the best team possible for the Vietnam meet.

During the SEA Games here in 2019, the national team pocketed 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 had two silvers and seven bronze medals during the biennial meet.

“We want to form a team that is capable of surpassing what the Philippine Team achieved in 2019. We’re hoping for a better outcome, better performance in the next SEA Games,” said Canlas.