Filipino-Ivorian Maxine Esteban turned back Germany’s Luca Sarah Holland-Cunz, 15-13, in the final of the International Handel Cup European Under-23 Circuit Championship on Sunday in Halle, Germany.
In a tense finale, Esteban seized control early, taking a 13-9 lead before holding off the challenge of the 19-year-old German to win the gold in the women’s individual foil at the prestigious tournament, which featured 96 fencers.
Esteban, ranked 41st at the start of the tournament before securing the 24th seed after progressing to the round of 32, defeated two members of the German national team on her way to the title.
She took down the Czech Republic’s Katerina Illekova, the ninth seed, in the round of 32, 15-6. Esteban then overcame eighth seed Marie Hofler of Germany, 11-10, in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals.
There, she caused a major upset by trouncing top seed Carlotta Sophi Morandi, 14-13. Morandi and Holfer are members of the German national squad.
Esteban, the former Ateneo ace in the UAAP, then took control early in the semifinals and eliminated Larissa Evers, 15-8, to assure herself of at least a silver.
In the final, Esteban went ahead early before Holland-Cunz stormed back late in the match to make things interesting.
However, the former Philippine champion kept her nerves and sealed the gold medal conquest.