Five of the six mainstays of the national team will try to secure the top spot in the Philippine squad for the next Southeast Asian Games in the second leg of the National Open Fencing Championships set Thursday to Friday at the Superdome in Ormoc City.
Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medalist Jylyn Nicanor and fencing rising star Samantha Catantan pocketed gold medals in their respective events during the first leg of the event, which serves as a qualifying tournament for the SEA Games in Vietnam.
Catantan, a freshman at Penn State University, defeated fellow national team member Maxine Esteban 15-8 in the final round of the women’s foil event, while Nicanor edged Queendenise Dalmacio of University of the East 15-3 in the gold medal bout of women’s sabre.
UE’s Jaymi De los Santos scored a stunning win in the first leg when she pocketed the gold medal in women’s epee with a thrilling 15-14 win against Hanniel Abella – a SEA Games gold medalist with the women’s team back in 2019 here.
In the men’s side, national team members Nathaniel Perez, CJ Concepcion and Noelito Jose Jr. – participants in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament with Catantan, Nicanor and Abella last April in Uzbekistan – won the gold medals in foil, saber and epee, respectively.
In the finals, Perez defeated UE’s Samuel Tranquilan 13-8, No. 2 Concepcion triumphed against top seed Donnie Arth Navarro 15-13, and Jose won against Reynaldo Perez Jr. 15-4.
Under the tournament format, winners have earned 12 points, while silver medalists got 10 points, bronze medals winners gained eight points, followed by the 5th to 6th with six points, 7th to 8th five points, 9th to 12th three points, 13th to 16th two points, and 17th to 32nd one point.
After this meet, the third leg is on July 10-11. Winners will also receive similar points to be totaled at the end of the competition for the ranking of fencers for the national team in the SEA Games.
Another gold medal win in the second leg by the first leg winners will secure them the top spot in the ranking of the Philippine Fencing Association, which is organizing the event with Ormoc City led by Mayor Richard Gomez – also the PFA president and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) second vice-president.
“After an exciting first leg, expect the same in the second leg,” said PFA Deputy Secretary-General Sally Aramburo, who added that the top three fencers are assured of national team slots while the fourth spot will be determined either by the coaches, or via wild card selection.
Amat Canlas, the overall head coach of the national fencing team, said that they still have to determine date in selecting the fourth spot.