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Young fencers need stable program — Canlas

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Photo: Former national coach Rolando ‘Amat’ Canlas Jr with the winners of the 1st Burlington Inter-Club International Challenge.

FORMER national coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. said behind the current crop of young fencers, there is a strong possibility of making it to the Olympics on a consistent basis.

To do that, however, there should be a stable program starting at the grassroots level all the way to the national team to be able for Filipinos to compete in the sport in the Olympics.

“Dapat talaga maging consistent tayo sa programa, umpisa pa lang sa grassroots level, ganitong age group that’s why we have this kind of tournament na gusto natin palakasin,” said Canlas during 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, lalakas ang mga bata and one to two years nasa national team sila. From there we have the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the Asian Games. Lahat naman ng mga fencers pangarap ang makapasok sa Olympics,” he added.

That’s exactly what Canlas is doing through his Canlas Fencing club, which organized a highly successful 1st Burlington Inter-Club International Challenge held last week at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.

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 yan talaga ang pinaka-goal namin, makapag-laro sa 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.

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