Richard Gomez reelected as fencing chief

Published June 23, 2021, 3:05 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez was reelected to a second straight term as president of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) after the local fencing body met online last Friday.

Gomez, the 55-year-old actor-sportsman turned politician, ran unopposed for the position, while six other officials were elected to their respective posts.

Sworn in to their respective positions were Eugenio Gonzalez as chairman, Atty. Michael Abundo as vice-chairman, Rene Gacuma as vice-president, Leah Gonzalez as treasurer and secretary-general, Walter Torres as auditor, and Carlos Angelo Dayrit as board member.

Meanwhile, Sally Aramburo has been appointed as PFA Deputy Secretary-General. Bones Floro, representing the Philippine Olympic Committee, served as observer for the proceedings.

Gomez was first elected as president of the PFA back in 2016, taking over from longtime president and former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) head, the late Celso “Cito” Dayrit.

The local fencing federation was supposed to have its election last year, or every Olympic year. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the election had to be moved to a year.

Under the leadership of Gomez, a former athlete who won a gold medal with the men’s epee national team during the 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here, the sport has enjoyed success in different international competitions and has gained interest from young athletes.

With the help of a new national team head coach in Amat Canlas, Philippine fencing earned a gold medal in men’s individual foil during the 2017 SEA Games courtesy of Fil-Am Brennan Wayne Louie after a ‘zero gold’ campaign in 2015.

In 2019 SEA Games here, the national team improved its gold medal production with two gold medals as Jylyn Nicanor ruled the women’s individual sabre, while the women’s epee team of Hanniel Abella, Mickyle Bustos, Anna Estimada and Harlene Raguin dominated the competition.

It was also in Gomez’s term in the last five years that the country saw the rise of Samantha Catantan, the first Filipino to win the gold medal in the Under-23 Asian Fencing Championship two years ago in Thailand.

Since then, Catantan has won a bronze medal as a freshman for Penn State University as the first homegrown’fencer to play in the US NCAA in Pennsylvania, a bronze medal in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Uzbekistan, and a silver medal in the North American Cup in Virginia.

Next month, Gomez and the city of Ormoc will host the National Open – a tournament intended to select the fencers for the national team in the Vietnam SEA Games later this year.

Gomez has said that the goal for Philippine fencing is to not just discover new talents for international competitions, but to promote it as a sport that can cater to all Filipinos.