Samantha Catantan vows better mental toughness at Paris Olympics

Samantha Catantan vows better mental toughness at Paris Olympics

Samantha Catantan Paris Olympics fencing Philippines

FILE–Philippines’ Samantha Catantan, the first Filipino women’s fencer to qualify for the Olympics, in action during a SEA Games match. (Photo by TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP)

Samantha Catantan couldn’t help but pour emotions when several kids from her old fencing club welcomed her at the airport.

“I see myself in them. More than a decade ago, I’m one of those kids who dreamed of reaching the Olympics someday,’’ said Catantan during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum held at the Philippine Sports Commission inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex on Tuesday.

Catantan broke barriers after qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics this July, the first Filipino fencer to do so since the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games and the first woman swordplay specialist representing Team Philippines.


READ: PH fencer Samantha Catantan qualifies for Paris Olympics

Although securing a medal in women’s foil at the global sports spectacle will be much tougher, the 22-year-old Catantan isn’t discounting the slim possibility.

“Like I always do in the past, I’ll just have to try my very best. For this tournament, I will not only work on my technical skills, but my mental toughness as well,’’ said Catantan who arrived from the United States on Monday.

The graduating accounting major from Penn State University could immediately face the likes of defending Olympic champion Lee Kiefer of the United States and Italians Martina Batini and Erica Cipressa, among others, from the top eight world rankings in the round of 32.


Catantan, gold medalist in the 2021 Vietnam Southeast Asian Games, is in town to visit her family, friends and the supportive fencing community at her former school University of the East and QC Sep, the club where she learned the fundamentals as a nine year old.

READ: Samantha Catantan’s Paris ticket draws up potential clash with Esteban


“The first thing that we should do is to bring her physical fitness back to 100 percent. She’s still slow compared to her old form,’’ said coach Rolando “Amat’’ Canlas, Catantan’s long-time mentor.

Catantan twisted her left knee during the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia last year and went through surgery that needed nearly 10 months to fully heal. The prized find from Frisco, Quezon City eventually settled for the silver medal following that injury in the semifinal.

During her victory in the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates last month, Catantan felt a piercing pain at the back of the same knee but managed to squeeze out the dramatic win over Kazakhstan’s Sofiya Actayeva in the final en route to the Paris berth.

“She doesn’t have peace of mind, thinking that the injury might come back anytime. We have to make sure it won’t distract her during the Olympics,’’ said Canlas.

Catantan will train in Venice, Italy from June 12 to 29 before setting up another camp in France organized by the Philippine Olympic Committee prior to the Paris Games.

Catantan and Canlas will enter the Olympic village on July 25, three days before the biggest competition of her life in the city of love and lights.

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“Beating the champion and the ranked players will be extremely difficult, but there’s always a chance, especially if Sam wakes up on the right side of the bed during competition day,’’ said Canlas.

Follow Inquirer Sports’ special coverage of the Paris Olympics 2024.

TAGS: Paris Olympics, Samantha Catantan

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