After impressive stints in various international competitions, Filipino fencing star Samantha Catantan will make her first local appearance this year when she competes in the National Open Fencing Championships on July 3 to 11 at the Ormoc City Superdome.
The 19-year-old Catantan recently returned from the US after her campaign as a freshman at Penn State University. She is finishing her quarantine period before she can proceed to the bubble tournament in Ormoc City.
Catantan said that similar to the previous Opens, this one is no different as she expects tough competition since this event also serves as a qualifying tournament for national team aspirants for the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam later this year.
“Of course, I’m very excited because I’ll be seeing my teammates from the previous SEA Games – they’re also my friends. The coaches of the national team, I am also looking forward to seeing them,” said Catantan when contacted by Manila Bulletin Monday, June 28.
“At the same time, we all know that this tournament will be competitive since national team spots are at stake. This is for the coming SEA Games. It doesn’t mean that you were part of the national team during the last SEA Games here, you’ll be part of it this year.”
“Each of us will have to earn it. So it’s going to be an exciting week of competition in the Open,” said Catantan, who last played for the national team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for the Tokyo Olympics last April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
In that OQT, Catantan lost to hometown bet Yana Alborova in the semifinals but managed to earn a bronze medal.
As a member of the Penn State University fencing team, Catantan went undefeated with a 20-0 record during pool play. Although she lost to teammate Lodovica Bicego – a senior from Italy – in the semifinal, she still got a bronze medal for making it to the Final Four and a selection to the All-America honors.
Catantan’s feat in the US NCAA led to Penn State University awarding her the MVP trophy for the fencing team.
In her last competition at the North American Cup Fencing Championship organized by USA Fencing at Richmond, Virginia, Catantan settled for a silver medal as she lost to Eleanor Harvey of Canada in the final round.
The schedule for the Open 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.
Amat Canlas, head coach of the national fencing team, said that after the Open, national team members would start the bubble training in Ormoc until August 10 before they return to Manila to continue preparation.
“That’s the plan for now. But we’ll finalize when we get the final members of the national team after the National Open,” said Canlas.
The said Open is organized by the Philippine Fencing Association, led by its president Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc City, which is also in full support of this qualifying tournament for the SEA Games.