PH fencer Samantha Catantan qualifies for Paris Olympics

PH fencer Samantha Catantan qualifies for Paris Olympics

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 11:00 PM April 27, 2024

Samantha Kyle Catantan fencing philippines Paris Olympics

Samantha Kyle Catantan (right) qualifies for the Paris Olympics after her triumph in the Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament.

FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates—Samantha Kyle Catantan paved the road to the 2024 Paris Olympics by lording it over in the Asian and Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament late Saturday evening.

Hampered by a hurting knee, Catantan rose beyond adversity by pulling off a slim 15-14 victory over Kazakhstan’s Sofia Actayeva in the finals of the women’s foil at the Zayed Sports Complex.

“This is a dream come true. I worked hard all these years just to be here and get this,” said Catantan, who broke down in tears after her final lunge at the taller Actayeva.

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Fencing coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. hugged Catantan tightly and cried with her while Filipino supporters led by former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman and cheerleader Harry Angping together with teammates from the national team rushed to the center of the venue and whooped it up.

She is the 12th Filipino to book a trip to Paris Olympics, joining pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxers Nesthy Petecio, Aira Villegas, Eumir Marcial, gymnasts Carlos Yulo, Aleah Finnegan and Levi Jung-Ruivivar, weightlifters Vanessa Sarno, Elreen Ando and John Ceniza and rower Joanie Delgaco.

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Catantan broke Philippine fencing’s decades of drought in the Olympics since Walter Torres donned the national colors in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Filipino fencing ace hurt her left knee with the match tied at 13, but the fighter in her drove the near-improbable heroic act and finished the Kazakh off.

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Catantan progressed to the final after frustrating top-seeded Sena Hong of South Korea, 15-3, in the semis that arranged the golden match versus Aktayeva, who booted out Thailand’s Chayanutphat Shinnakerdchoke.

READ: Paris Olympics hopeful Samantha Catantan making great strides in US

The Korean got zapped right from the start as Catantan quickly raced to an 6-2 advantage in the first set.

Catantan never wavered from there, parrying all the attacks of Hong and converting them in her favor.

When the third round came, Catantan made life even harder for Hong, whose efforts to reverse everything in her favor went to naught.

Six straight points by Catantan in the third set abruptly closed out their much-awaited face off with still more than a minute remaining.

Catantan wiped out the memory of a semifinal exit at the previous continental OQT where she bowed out of the semifinal and missed the bus to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Only the individual champion in the three weapons—foil, epee and sabre—will progress to Paris, so a defeat is entirely unacceptable.

Catantan, who captured the gold medal in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games and silver in the 2023 Cambodia edition, made short work of Oman’s Israa Al Siyabi, 154, in the quarterfinals.

After Al Siyabi sneaked in the initial point early in the first set, Catantan immediately countered with 10 straight points in less than two minutes, transforming the projected cliff-hanger into an annihilation.

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With the opening set ending in Catantan’s favor by a mile, 11-3, all she did was practically go through the motions of ending Al Siyabi’s suffering.

It came swift as Catantan sealed her semifinal matchup opposite Hong with still nearly two minutes remaining in the second round.

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TAGS: Paris Olympics, Samantha Catantan

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