Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medalist Jylyn Nicanor and fencing rising star Samantha Catantan pocketed gold medals as they ruled their respective events in the first leg of the National Open Fencing Championships Sunday, July 4 at the Superdome in Ormoc City.
Catantan, a freshman at Penn State University, emerged victorious in the women’s foil event as she downed fellow national team mainstay Maxine Esteban 15-8 in the final round.
A bronze medal winner in the previous SEA Games here back in 2019, Catantan defeated Eytria Olarte of University of the East in the quarterfinals 15-1 after she earned a bye in the round of 16.
The 19-year-old Catantan also hammered a similar 15-1 victory against another national team mainstay in Justine Gail Tinio in the semifinal stage of the tournament organized by the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA).
Esteban settled with the silver medal while Tinio and Wilhelmina Lozada finished tied for third in this event supported by the government of Ormoc City led by Mayor Richard Gomez, also the PFA president.
As the first leg winner Catantan received 12 points, Esteban got 10 points, while Tinio and Lozada each had eight points. A total of 12 fencers competed in the foil women’s event and got their corresponding points.
Winners in the second on July 7-8 and third leg on July 10-11 from all three weapons – foil, sabre and epee – will also receive similar points to be totaled at the end of the competition for the ranking of fencers since the event serves as qualifying meet for national team in the coming SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“All points will be tabulated after the third leg. However, the sure slot for the national team for the SEA Games are the 1-2 fencers. The third and fourth are either choice of the coaches, or wild card selection,” said PFA Deputy Secretary-General Sally Aramburo.
Amat Canlas, the overall head coach of the national fencing team, said that they still have to determine the date in selecting the 3-4 spots.
On the other hand, Nicanor edged Queendenise Dalmacio of UE 15-3 in the final of the women’s sabre event. After a bye in the Round of 16, Nicanor proceeded to beat Ma. Wendylene Mendoza of Canlas Fencing 15-2 in the quarterfinal, and fellow national team member Kemberley Camahalan 15-5 in the semifinal.
Camahalan and Allaine Nicole Cortey placed third overall for the bronze medal.
Meanwhile, UE’s Jaymi De los Santos provided the surprise of the opening leg following her thrilling 15-14 win over Hanniel Abella in the final of the women’s epee category.
Prior to the final bout, the fourth-seeded Abella – a SEA Games gold medalist and participant in the last Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Asia held in Uzbekistan – stunned top seed Princess Honey Arbilon 15-9 in the semifinal.
The second seeded De los Santos, however, proved to be ready against the top fencers in the division where she also scored big wins against Maita Cabrera of UE (15-5) in the Round of 16, Ivy Claire Dinoy of MP (15-13) in the quarters, and third seeded Juliana Gomez of MP (15-11) in the semifinal.
Arbilon and Gomez – daughter of Mayor Gomez, who won a gold medal with the epee men’s team during the 2005 SEA Games here – finished tied for third place for the bronze medal behind De los Santos and Abella.
In the men’s side, national team members Nathaniel Perez, CJ Concepcion and Noelito Jose Jr. – participants in the OQT last April – won in their respective events, foil, saber and epee.
In their respective finals, Perez won against UE’s Samuel Tranquilan 13-8, No. 2 Concepcion triumphed against top seed Donnie Arth Navarro 15-13, and Jose won over Reynaldo Perez Jr. 15-4.