Catantan uses missed Olympic shot as motivation

Published July 22, 2021, 10:54 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Filipino fencer Samantha Catantan, right, and national fencing team head coach Amat Canlas at the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament last April in Uzbekistan. (Photo courtesy of Amat Canlas)

Finally, after a year of waiting, the Tokyo Olympics is set to formally on Friday, July 23.

Filipino fencing star Samantha Catantan would have been part of the Philippine contingent in Japan, but a semifinal setback a few months back in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament ended her dream of making it to this year’s edition of the Summer Games.

Instead of taking it negatively, Catantan said it motivates her to work and train harder to get to a higher level and play for the flag and country in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“Siyempre yung feeling na makapasok sa top four (in the OQT) sobrang saya, yung mga sumali dun sobrang pili lang,” said Catantan Thursday, July 22 during the online program of the Philippine Sports Commission, “People. Sports. Conversation.” on its Facebook page.

“Pero iba pa din talaga pag maka-pasok ka ng Olympics. Mas nabigyan ako ng motivation na mag-training pa. Kasi umabot na sa semifinals, so hopefully soon… sana nasa finals na and maka-pasok talaga (in the Olympics).”

In the Asia-Oceania OQT last April in Uzbekistan, Catantan lost to top seed and hometown bet Yana Alborova 15-10 and in their women’s foil semifinal match to settle with the bronze medal.

Fencing national team coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. said that with the PSC support, the road towards the 2024 Paris Olympics could be achieved by having the right program for the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) under its president, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez.

“Basta nasa right program tayo at tamang suporta. Ang PSC ramdam na ramdam namin talaga ang suporta nila start palang noong 2016, buhos na sila hindi lang sa fencing,” said Canlas.

The plan for the fencers, according to Canlas, is to have them compete in the prestigious World Cup, as well as in different World Grand Prix for them to earn world-ranking points.

By that, Filipino fencers – Catantan or Maxine Esteban for example – could accumulate world-ranking points going to the 2024Paris Olympics and possibly qualify through the FEI or International Fencing Federation system.

Another way is through the OQT.

However, for Canlas, he prefers the world-ranking points, which would also progress the skills of Filipino fencers by competing in various international meets rather than the OQT where one setback ends a participant’s bid.

Canlas said that while the goal of current national team members now is the 2024 Paris Olympics, he said that his objective – as a whole for Philippine fencing – is to send a Filipino fencer on a consistent basis in the Olympics.

“Nai-inspire ako na mag-produce ng mas bata kay Sam. So ang gusto nating mangyari is hindi lang itong susunod na Paris Olympics, ang gusto natin maging consistent tayo na may Filipino fencers sa mga darating pa na Olympics like in 2028, 2032,” said Canlas.