Friday , July 12 2024

Catantan’s Paris ticket draws up potential clash with Esteban

Samantha Catantan SEA Games

Samantha Kyle Catantan flashes her gold medal. Photo from her Facebook account

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—Samantha Catantan isn’t discounting the probability that she might cross swords with former teammate Maxine Esteban at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

And it could come early since Esteban, another Filipino fencing ace who transferred to Ivory Coast and secured an Olympic ticket, and Catantan are stacked at the bottom half of the 34 fencers who qualified in women’s individual foil.

“We can’t do anything about the pairings, so it’s possible,’’ said Catantan, who clinched an Olympic berth by winning her event at the recent Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament (OQT) in Fujairah, a vibrant city by the sea roughly one hour from here.

Catantan and Esteban, the top qualifier from Africa, were teammates in the Philippine national fencing team. They shared a silver finish in the team event of the 2021 Vietnam Southeast Asian (SEA) Games where Catantan captured the individual gold.

“I think we worked really hard. It would be nice to fence against each other, because it’s been a long time since the last time we fenced,’’ said Catantan, whose trip to the OQT was backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.

“Of course, you don’t want to fence against your teammate in that (Olympics) kind of tournament, because somehow you want to compete with somebody you haven’t faced before,’’ said Catantan, who was discovered by long-time national coach Rolando “Amat’’ Canlas Jr.

Catantan, a graduating accounting major from Penn State University, claimed the silver medal during the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

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The 22-year-old ace from Frisco, Quezon City then placed third in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila where Catantan and Esteban got a bronze medal in the team event. Esteban secured an individual bronze medal in the 2017 edition.

So far, making it to Paris has become the climax of Catantan’s career after narrowly defeating Kazakhstan’s Sofiya Actiyeva, 15-14, despite hobbling with a hurting knee in front of a small clique of wildly cheering Filipinos. INQ

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