Pinoy fencers to compete in Dubai

MANILA — Southeast Asian Games medalist Samantha Kyle Catantan will spearhead the country’s campaign in the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships which will be held from February 24 to March 4 at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Catantan, 17, won the silver in the women’s individual foil event in Malaysia last year. The University of the East (UE) player also bagged her second straight Most Valuable Player award after leading the juniors team to its seventh consecutive title in the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).

Maxine Isabel Esteban, a bronze medalist the 2017 SEAG, is also going to Dubai along with fellow foil players Maricar Matienzo and Anica Abaquin.

The other members of the fencing team are Sammuel Tranquilan, Prince John Felipe, Lance Tan, Jolo Viceo, Zachary Ang, Trino Montinola and Lorenzo Mercado (men’s foil); Reynaldo Perez (men’s epee); Nicole Apacible (women’s sabre); Sandro Sia, Enrico Suplico, Rafael Jimenez and and Polo Llagas (men’s sabre).

Tranquilan and Felipe are also members of the UE fencing team. Tranquilan bagged the MVP for steering the men’s team to its sixth straight title, while Felipe pocketed his second straight MVP trophy after the juniors team nailed its eighth straight crown.

“Hopefully, we can win medals for the country and also, we may avoid injuries,” said the 19-year-old Tranquilan in an interview on Wednesday. He is a member of the team composed of Nathaniel Perez, Michael Nicanor and Jancel Concepcion, that won the silver medal in the men’s team foil event during the 18th ASEAN University Games in Singapore two years ago.

Rolando Canlas, head of the coaching staff composed of Almario Vizcayno, Ramil Endriano and Edward Daliva, said the fencing delegation would leave on Thursday for Dubai.

“The tournament in Dubai is part of our Asian Games preparations,” said Canlas, also head coach of UE. “Our fencers are also scheduled to compete in the World Championships in Italy this April”.

Those who will compete in the Junior and Cadet World Fencing Championships are Catantan, Esteban, Matienzo, Tranquilan, Felipe, Tan, Perez, Miggy Bautista (men’s epee), Jaymi delos Santos (women’s epee), Carla Arreza (women’s sabre) and Daniel Britanico (men’s saber). Canlas and Vizcayo will accompany the athletes.

An estimated 1,250 athletes from 120 countries are joining the World Championships set on April 1 to 19 at the Cattolica Canter in Verona, Italy.

Meanwhile, the Dubai-based Khaleej Times has reported on Monday that more than 800 fencers are expected to join the tournament for cadet (Under 16) and junior (Under 19) athletes.

“This is the biggest Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in terms of both, the numbers of countries participating and the number of fencers. The benefits of organizing such an event are twofold for us. First, our young and emerging fencers get the opportunity to compete and test their abilities against the best fencers of Asia. Second, hosting this championship will provide us with the experience of organizing a major championship,” the newspaper quoted Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and chairman of the UAE Fencing Federation and a member of the UAE National Olympic Committee’s Executive office, as saying during a press conference announcing the staging of the tournament, at the Dubai Sports Council (DSC) headquarters.

Also present were DSC Secretary General Saeed Hareb and Assistant Secretary General Nasser Aman Al Rahma.

The Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships is organized by the UAE Fencing Federation and the DSC under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the President of the National Olympic Committee.

The participating countries are Australia, Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and UAE.