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Tokyo OQT next for Pinoy fencers

Harlene Raguin, Hanniel Abella, Anna Gabriella Estimada and Mickyle Rein Bustos ruled the women’s team epee event in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Waylon Galvez)

Harlene Raguin, Hanniel Abella, Anna Gabriella Estimada and Mickyle Rein Bustos ruled the women’s team epee event in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Waylon Galvez)

By WAYLON GALVEZ

After an inspiring performance in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the fencing national team is gearing up for two important tournaments next year, including the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Seoul, South Korea.

The Filipino fencers contributed to the Philippine Team’s successful campaign as it bagged two gold medals, two silvers and seven bronzes in the just-concluded SEA Games the country hosted Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Jylyn Nicanor won in the women’s individual sabre, while Harlene Raguin, Hanniel Abella, Anna Gabriella Estimada and Mickyle Rein Bustos ruled the women’s team epee event.

Fencing’s national team head coach Amat Canlas said that while it was overwhelming to see Filipinos get medals in the biennial meet, it’s not automatic for these fencers to be included to the squad in the OQT for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Asian Championship, both in Korea.

Jylyn Nicanor won the women’s individual sabre event in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Waylon Galvez)

Jylyn Nicanor won the women’s individual sabre event in the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Waylon Galvez)

Canlas said only six fencers will be selected to the national team in the National Open Circuit from January to March.

“We’re back to zero, because we’ll select fencers to the national team for the OQT and the Asian Championship,” said Canlas. “The fencers who won in the SEA Games, they also need to go through to the qualifying event to be able to join the national and compete for Olympic spots.”

Talents who excel in individual events in foil, sabre and epee will be selected and be part of the national team for the OQT set April 16 and 17.

The last Filipino fencer who competed in the Olympics was Walter Torres during the 1992 Barcelona Games. Canlas said the Filipinos have a solid shot at making it,

“Nararamdam ko na may makakalulusot naman and mag-qualify sa Tokyo Olympics. At least isa, ang sabi ko nga step by step. Kung maka-dalawa, maganda. The good thing now in fencing is maganda ang program,” said Canlas, adding that 16 fencers have already qualified to the Games through world rankings, while 16 more will come from the OQT.

“Meron ng 16 fencers na qualified, kaya 16 na lang ang kukunin. Kung sino lang ang manalo sa OQT, yun lang ang mag-advance,” Canlas added.

Canlas said they will have a full contingent of 24 fencers for the Asian Championships set April 18-23.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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