Catantan resumes campaign in US

Published August 11, 2021, 10:14 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Filipino fencer Samantha Catantan expects a tougher second year as a member of the Penn State University fencing team as more competitions are lined up as part of the buildup for the 2022 US NCAA Fencing Championship.

Samantha Catantan, right, poses with family, parents Jon and Aileen, and sisters Janna, Opao and Shy prior to her departure for the US Wednesday night. (Photo from Aileen Lim-Catantan Facebook)

Samantha Catantan left for the US Wednesday night after she spent her school break here for more than a month.

“The school starts later this month, so we’ll resume our training. I know there are lots of tournaments starting in December,” Catantan told Manila Bulletin a day before her departure.

“Unlike last time when the fencing season started February of 2021 – two months before the US NCAA Fencing Championship – this time what I know is that we’ll be in more tournaments.”

“That’s good news because more competitions means more opportunities to improve considering we’ll be playing more schools. I’m excited to resume my studies in the US and compete again.”

The 19-year-old Catantan joined Penn State in the second semester of school year 2020-2021 when she arrived as a freshman on an athletic scholarship – the first for a homegrown Filipino fencer.

As a first year fencer, Catantan made her mark when she went undefeated in the pool play with a 20-0 record in women’s individual foil event.

Although she lost in the crossover semifinal round against senior teammate Lodovica Bicego of Italy, Catantan – a former star at University of the East – earned bronze in her US NCAA debut.

Aside from that, Catantan was also named to the All-America selection and was adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Penn State U fencing team for the 2021 Season.

She returned to the country early last month to participate in the Open Fencing Championship organized by the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) in Ormoc City, led by its mayor Richard Gomez – the PFA chief.

After the tournament, Catantan was able to spend quality time the last two weeks with her family, her parents Jon and Aileen, as well as her sisters Janna, Opao and Shy, who are also fencers.

The pride of Quezon City said she knows her second year would be tougher.

Catantan, who emerged as the No. 1 foil fencer of the national team following the Open Fencing Championship held last month in Ormoc City, said that she is ready as her focus is to improve her skills.

“That’s my goal, that’s what I’m excited about returning to Penn State. This would give me an opportunity to continue my improvement as a fencer, and at the same time help the team win in the tournaments, especially the next US NCAA Fencing Championship,” she said.

Catantan said that her improvement at Penn State would help her as a member of the national team in various international meets like the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnam, possibly the Asian Games in China next year, and in the fencing World Championship, the World Grand Prix and the World Cup.

“It’s a step by step process in terms of reaching my goals. First is the SEA Games (gold medal), then (compete in) the Asian Games, and then hopefully by 2024 play in the Paris Olympics,” she said.