Sam Catantan settles for silver medal at North American Cup

Samantha Catantan takes a selfie as she holds her silver medal she won in the North American Cup Sunday, June 6, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo from Samantha Catantan Facebook)

Filipino fencing star Samantha Catantan fell short on her quest for a title as she dropped a 15-5 loss to Eleanor Harvey of Canada in the final of Division 1 category of the North American Cup Sunday, June 6, in Richmond, Virginia.

The freshman from Penn State University struggled in the gold medal bout due to cramps as the 25-year-old Harvey, a gold medal winner for the Canadian Team in the Pan-Am Games, took advantage of the situation.

As the sixth seeded fencer in the knockout round, Catantan earned a bye in the round of 128, then went to beat American Allison Lee 15-7 in the round of 64, a close 15-13 win against Crystal Qian of the US in the round of 32, and Renata Chusid of the US 15-5 in round of 16.

Catantan moved to the semifinal round with a thrilling 15-14 victory against Israel’s Nicole Pustilnik in quarterfinal, before beating American Sarah Taffel in Final Four 15-11.

The tournament was the first for the 19-year-old Catantan since she earned a bronze medal in last April’s Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Despite the setback, Catantan said it was still a good showing for her considering this event is part of her preparation for the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“It was still a good performance. I’m improving in every tournament that I join,” Catantan said as she also won a bronze medal in her debut campaign in the US NCAA Fencing Championship last March.

Aside from Catantan, US-based Filipino fencers Daena Talavera and Annika Beatrice Santos also competed in the Division 1 category, finishing 58th and 116th out of 144 participants.

Talavera, the 16-year-old student at Clayton High School in Missouri, won her opening match against American Anina Breker 15-10 in the round of 128, but lost to Zander Rhodes of the US 15-7 in the round of 64.

The two will see action in the junior’s division Monday.

Lance Tan, the sophomore from Sacred Heart University, finished 20th in the Division 1 category of men’s foil of this three-day event organized by the USA Fencing.

The 20-year-old Tan earned a bye in the opening round of 256, then defeated Samuel Oh of the US 15-11 in the round of 128. He won against Ziyuan Chen of China 15-9 in the round of 64, but lost to Russia’s Marsel Nagimov 15-3 in the round of 32 of the tournament.

Amat Canlas, head coach of the national fencing team, said the performance of Catantan, as well as the other Filipino fencers are good experience for them for future international competitions.

“These are the kind of tournaments that really developed them as fencers,” said Canlas. “Because they get to face current and former Olympians, world champions, so it’s a different experience.”

“Only in this type of event do they gain the experience and exposure needed. We’re happy especially with the performance of Sam, she really makes us all proud of her achievement.”

Catantan is set to return home on June 20 to participate in the National Open in Ormoc City intended to select the national team for the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam later this year.