Despite the absence of marquee players, the national fencing team remains optimistic about their chances in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
Head coach Ramil Ederiano of the national fencing team stated that they are maintaining high hopes despite the absence of Southeast Asian Games standouts Samantha Catantan and Maxine Esteban.
Catantan, who competes for Penn State University, had to withdraw from the gold medal match of the women’s foil event at the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia due to a knee injury.
Esteban, on the other hand, left the national team to join Ivory Coast as a naturalized player.
With Catantan and Esteban not available, SEA Games silver medalist Noelito Jose will lead the Filipino fencers in the men’s epee event, alongside Ivy Dinoy (women’s epee), Samuel Tranquilan (men’s foil), Jylyn Nicanor (women’s sabre), Miggy Bautista (men’s foil), and Juliana Gomez (women’s epee), who is the daughter of Asian Games chief of mission Richard Gomez.
Their training and participation have been funded by the Philippine Sports Commission.
“A lot of individual medalists will join, like Noelito,” said Edriano, whose athletes will begin competing for the 12 gold medals at stake on Sunday at the Hangzhou Dianzi University Gymnasium.
“They have been defeating Asian champions, and they have a good chance of making it to the medal round in individual events.”
Edriano acknowledged that countries like Japan, Hong Kong, and host China are expected to dominate the tournament.
“There are many strong countries here,” Edriano noted, adding that South Korea dominated fencing in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta with six gold, three silver, and six bronze medals.
“South Korea is currently a powerhouse, as well as Hong Kong. Korea boasts former Olympic medalists, and Japan currently has world champions among them.”