Catantan Catantan with her long-time coach, Amat Canlas.

Catantan hopes for the best

May 22, 2024 People's Tonight 167 views

SAM Catantan, the first Philippine fencer to make it to the Olympics in 32 years, can only hope for the best as she looks forward to the Paris Games in July.

The 22-year-old Catantan, a fencing scholar at Penn State University, is nearing the final phase of her training for the Olympics.

She is bound for Italy for a camp scheduled June 12-29 and will then proceed to France to wrap it up before checking in at the Athletes Village on July 25.

Catantan, who qualified to the Olympics by winning the gold in the Asian and Oceania Olympics Qualifying Tournament last April, will see action in the direct elimination Round-of-64 on July 28. If she succeeds, then it’s on to the toughest part.

In the Round-of-32, Catantan will most likely be pitted against the No. 1 fencer in women’s foil – Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Lee Kiefer of the United States – or the second-ranked fencer.

“Kahit saan kami pumwesto dito, malakas ang makakalaban namin,” said Catantan’s long-time coach, Amat Canlas, in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

“If we get to the Round-of-32 as the No. 32 then we will meet the No. 1 player,” he said.

However, Catantan said they’re not running out of hope as she tries to get as far as she could, being the first Philippine fencer to make it to the Olympics after Percy Alger in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and Walter Torres, current commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Catantan, now fully recovered from an ACL injury she suffered during the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia, is not about to give up on her chances this early.

N “Nothing is impossible,” she said during the weekly forum presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Smart/PLDT, MILO, and the 24/7 sports app in the country, ArenaPlus.

Catantan is not discounting the possibility of facing Maxine Esteban, her former teammate in the Philippine team who made it to the Paris Olympics while carrying the colors of Ivory Coast.

“It’s an external factor that we don’t have any control of,” said Catantan, who will spend the next couple of weeks practicing with members of the Philippine men’s team.

B “Itatapat ko na siya sa magagaling na lalaki natin hanggang umalis kami for Italy. Ibang training program naman ‘yun,” said Canlas.

In Venice, Catantan will get the rare chance to train with members of the Italian team.

“We were invited, and ang maganda is that sagot ng Penn State lahat. His Italian coach at Penn State will be with Sam. Then pagdating niya sa France, ako na ang kasama niya,” said Canlas.

Regarding a possible clash with Esteban, Canlas said he would rather see Catantan facing someone else.

“Mas gusto namin kung ibang country na lang ang makalaban. Matagal na sila mag-teammate ni Maxine. But of course, kung ‘yun ang nasa bracket then paghahandaan namin,” he said.