Filipino fencers from Canlas Fencing pocketed five of the nine gold medals Team Philippines won in the 1st Malaysian Fencing Federation Minime International Tournament held December 1-4 at the Arena Tan Sri Hamzah center inside the Olympic Council Malaysia (OCM) indoor complex in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sophie “Opao” Catantan and Antonio Manuel captured gold medals in their respective age brackets in individual foil, while Zoe Atilano bagged the gold in her age group in women’s sabre that highlighted the campaign of CF, which came here with a strong 55-man team in the 10-nation tournament.
Catantan, third of four Catantan fencing sisters led by Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Samantha Catantan, delivered a dramatic come-from-behind 15-14 win against Fan Bo Yee of Hong Kong to rule the Under-16 women’s individual foil.
It was sweet revenge for the 13-year-old Grade 7 student at University of the East after a painful 15-10 loss to Fan during the finals of the U14 finals. Catantan earned her second gold medal when she anchored CF Team A with fellow Red Warriors Aubrey Pauline Fernandez and Meg Gervacio, as well as Kaijinsei dela Serna to a thrilling 44-43 win against Hong Kong.
Manuel, a 14-year-old Grade 9 student at PAREF Northfield, also finished the tournament a double gold medalist as he won the U-14 men’s foil individual title by beating CF team mate and UE’s Brynt Gale 15-13 in the finals, and powered the U14 CF Team A with Gale, James Lim and Derek Perez to a 45-39 win against Blade KL Team A in the finals of the U14 men’s team foil event.
As for the 13-year-old Atilano, the Grade 8 student at Waldorf scored a similar nail-biting 15-13 comeback victory opposite top seed Moon Hae In of Korea in the U14 women’s sabre as CF finished third out of 26 different clubs from 10 countries with five gold medals, eight silvers and 18 bronze medals.
Hong Kong Fencing School topped the medal tally with six gold medals, five silvers and two bronzes, while Valor Fencing Academy of host Malaysia came in second overall with 6–0-2 medal collection. Modern Pentathlon of the Philippines collected four gold medals all in epee events.
Aside from their gold medals, Catantan, Manuel and Atilano also earned silver medals - Catantan two with Fernandez, Victoria Ebdane and Jodie Tan in the U14 WF team and with Adrianne Lising, Sofie Santiago and Atilano in the U16 WS team. Aside from her silver in the U16, Atilano also got the same medal in the U14 WS with Kyra Cleto, Medivh Boy and Clara Yao, while Antonio got silver in U16 MF with Lim, Louis Shoemaker and Antonio de Luna.
CF’s Ivana Salvador, Tina Bueno, Jana Uy and Nina Canlas got silver in the U16 women’s epee team. Also with silver medals are Tan in U12 WF individual and Gale in U14 MF individual.
The 18 bronze medals were from Fernandez with two, Catantan, Lim, Salvador, Bueno, Ebdane, Hagia and Oscar del Castillo, Yuna Canlas, Morgan Uy, Elijah Timbol, Diego Son and Nicol Canlas had one each. CF Team B anchored by Willa Liana Galvez with Aliyah Diaz, Marian Castro and Skye Del Villar got a bronze in U14 women’s team foil event, the same with Miguel Chavez, Enrico Fuentes and Faber Cabrera in U16 ME team, Son, Simon del Villar and Diego Marcelo in U16 ME team, and Khiane Felipe, Charles Babatio, Aidan Chandani and Shoemaker in U16 MS team.
Backed by NLEX, San Miguel Corporation, Rain or Shine, Converge, Smart Sports and Pocari Sweat PH, it was the second medal for the 11-year-old Galvez in a week after she won her first individual gold by ruling the U12 women’s foil in Republic Fencing’s Young Masketeers Series 2022 last November 29 in Quezon City.
“We’re very happy with the turnout, with the performance of our young fencers. These fencers are the future of Philippine fencing and we saw how they fought to give honor to our country,” said former national team coach Amat Canlas, co-founder of CF with Sally Aramburo.