Fencer Samantha Catantan now clearly understands that the difference between making it to the Olympics and missing the trip rests mostly on maturity and experience.
But the 19-year-old likewise discovered that the thin line that divides victory from defeat in swordsmanship is courage.
“The more competitions you participate in, the more confident you become,” said Catantan in Filipino during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday. “I just feel that we were not as confident as the other fencers from other countries.”
Catantan recently missed the booking for the scheduled trip to the Tokyo Olympics after settling for a bronze medal in a setback against Yana Alborova of Russia during the medal round of the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Uzbekistan.
CJ Concepcion also failed in his bid in the men’s epee after bowing out of contention against Australia’s Alexandre Douglas in the round-of-16 of the qualifier, where only gold medalists in three events—foil, epee and sabre—secured the remaining spots for Tokyo.
The botched opportunity in the women’s individual foil, however, only heightened Catantan’s desire to be on that plane bound for the next Olympics in 2024 Paris.
“It’s my first time in an Olympic qualifying. Other countries have the experience, but it doesn’t mean you can’t beat them,” said Catantan, who helped Penn State University clinch runner-up honors in the US NCAA fencing championships two months ago.
“You have to be mentally prepared out there to win. If I want to be in Paris, I have to begin preparing now,” added the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games bronze medalist and Siklab Sports Youth Awardee.
Admitting that reaching the goal is a progressive process, one of Catantan’s immediate priorities at the moment is to capture the gold medal in the SEA Games.
Philippine fencing head coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas, who discovered Catantan when she was just 9 years old competing in a club in Quezon City, has already laid out plans not only for the sport’s prized athlete, but for the entire team as well.
“We learned a lot in the (Olympic) qualifying,” said Canlas.
The team bound for the Vietnam SEA Games at the end of the year has already set up camp in Ormoc City. INQ
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