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(C) Maxine Esteban

2024 Summer Olympics

Maxine Esteban closes in on Olympic berth

Filipino-Ivorian fencer Maxine Esteban will compete in a final Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Washington DC on March 15, aiming to officially secure a ticket to the Summer Games scheduled in Paris this year.

Esteban, who switched federations after a controversial exclusion by the Philippine Fencing Association, currently leads the race for the direct qualification spot in the African continental zone.

Additionally, Esteban is presently the second-ranked Asian among female foil athletes in the Olympic qualification ranking. Interestingly, this implies that she would have been a strong contender for one of the two Asian continental slots to the Paris Games and could have been the fifth Olympian for the Philippines had she not switched federations due to what she described as “unfair and unjust” treatment by the PFA.

“I will continue to work hard and hopefully reclaim my dream that people tried to take away from me,” said Esteban, an eight-time Philippine champion and multi-World Cup medalist, who aims to become the first female Filipino fencer to qualify for the Olympics.

A strong performance in the Washington qualifier would officially secure Esteban an Olympic berth outright, without her having to go through a wild card tournament, which is reserved for countries with no fencers directly qualifying in the sport yet.

It is recalled that Esteban was excluded from the national team supposedly because she skipped the Philippine qualifiers. However, Esteban provided documents showing that the PFA had excused her from the national trials due to an ACL injury suffered while representing the country in the World Championship in Egypt.

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“Not only was I dropped for a reason they excused me from, but the rule was not applied to everyone in the national team,” she said.

“That’s why I worked extra hard this past year. I want to repay Côte d’Ivoire for giving me not just a home but a shot to retake the things I worked so hard for that they tried to tear away from me,” Esteban, currently ranked No. 37 in the world, added.

Esteban’s transfer means that no fencer representing the Philippines is on the list for any direct qualification spot. The PFA will send its top-ranked fencers in the hope of obtaining a wild card slot this April.

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