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Olympic dream within reach — Canlas

With a consistent program from the grassroots level to the national team, former Philippine Team head coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. said that there is always a strong chance for Filipino fencers to make it to the Olympics.

Canlas said that that is what he's been doing, at least at the grassroots level as Canlas Fencing club, which he opened several years ago, has been active in staging local inter-club tournaments.

Former National Fencing Team head coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. graces the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum with cadet and junior fencers, from left, Antonio Manuel, Meagan Co Say, Zoe Atilano, Miyake Capina, Enrico Fuentes, Louis Shoemaker, Faber Canrera, Sophie Catantan and Nina Canlas. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Last week, CF finally had its maiden international competition with the 1st Burlington Inter-Club International Challenge held at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.

Aside from the Philippines, fencers from South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, Vietnam and Filipino-American athletes from the USA joined the five-day tournament.

Canlas said on Tuesday, Aug. 1 that this kind of event against foreign teams help Filipino fencers test and improve their skills.

“We need to start at grassroots level like age group that's why we have this kind of tournament,” said Canlas at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Conference Hall in Manila.

“If we have a solid program for the grassroots, they will improve and one to two years they'll be in the national team. From there we have the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the Asian Games,” he added.

Four members of the current national team – led by Noelito Jose – competed in the World Championships in Italy, one of the qualifying meets for the Paris Games, last month.

Jose and other fencers, and possibly Samantha Catantan, who is recovering from an left ACL injury she suffered during the Cambodia SEA Games in May, will see action in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in April 2024.

Walter Torres, now a commissioner of the PSC, was the last Filipino fencer to see action in the Olympics during the 1992 Barcelona Games in Spain. At that time, he earned an automatic spot after winning a gold medal in the SEA Games.

Fencers around the world now need to go through qualifiers to get ranking FIE points.

“As a fencer, it's really our goal to make it to Olympics,” said Catantan, 13, sister of national team members Samantha and Ysah who won four gold medals in the Burlington International representing University of the East and Canlas Fencing.

Aside from Catantan, also present at the Forum backed by the PSC, Milo, PAGCOR and San Miguel Corp. are Louis Shoemaker of UE/CF, Antonio Manuel of Paref/CF, Faber Cabrera of Ateneo/CF, Enrico Fuentes Southridge/CF, Meagan Co Say of Republic Fencing, Miyake Capina of De La Salle Zobel, Zoe Atilano of CF and Nina Canlas of UE/CF.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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