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Filipino fencers eyeing four golds in SEA Games

MANILA -- The Philippine fencing team to the 30th SEA Games hosted by the Philippines later this month will not settle for anything less than winning the overall title on home soil.

The last time the Philippines hosted the biennial event in 2005, the local fencers were overall champions with five gold, five silver and a couple of bronze medals.

“That´s our aim. We are targeting three to four golds. We want all our fencers to win medals. If not the gold, then a silver or bronze,” said head coach Rolando Canlas Jr. in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.

Fencing in this year´s SEA Games will be staged at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from Dec. 3 to 8. A total of 12 gold medals will be disputed among fencers from nine competing countries — men’s and women’s individual and team events in foil, epee and sabre.

Canlas, a gold and bronze medalist in 2005, is confident that the 24-member national team can deliver.

“With help from the Philippine Sports Commission, they were provided with everything from foreign exposure, foreign coach, nutrition, conditioning and sports psychology. They are all excited,” he added.

The country´s top fencers, including Noelito Jose Jr., Nathaniel Perez, CJ Concepcion, Nicole Cortey and reigning Asian Under-23 champion Samantha Catantan graced the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel and PAGCOR.

In the 2015 SEA Games, the Filipinos failed to win a gold, settling for a handful of silver medals. In 2017, they marked their return to the top with a gold, three silvers and two bronzes.

Canlas said full support from the government and top fencing officials led by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez and Celso Dayrit has given the fencers enough motivation to deliver the gold.

They vied in major overseas competitions prior to this SEA Games, including Asian and World championships, and underwent intensive training in South Korea from Sept. 3 to Oct. 3. They will vie in the Taiwan Open from Nov. 14 to 18 in time for the SEA Games scheduled Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

“They really improved a lot. The confidence level is very high. When we compete overseas, even the Koreans are now taking videos of our fencers,” said Canlas, noting that Catantan won the gold in the recent Asian Under-23 by beating two Koreans along the way. (PR)

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