Christian Concepcion celebrates after defeating and Singapore’s Leu Clive Yi Yang in Fencing Individual Sabre semifinals at World Trade Center, December 3, 2019. (MB File Photo)

Five of the six Filipino fencers that will compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament via the Asian Championship are set to leave Saturday for a two-month bubble training camp in Ormoc City.

Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jylyn Nicanor leads the contingent of Olympic hopefuls that will train under the care of Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, also the president of the Philippine Fencing Association.

“This training camp in Ormoc City is very important for the fencers going to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament,” said national team mentor Amat Canlas in a phone interview.

“They didn’t have regular training for almost a year. Of course, we have our daily online, but this kind of physical training that they will have is totally different from what we’ve been doing the past months.”

Nicanor plays in the women’s saber, while with her in Ormoc City are Chris Jester Concepcion (men’s saber), Hanniel Abella and Noelito Jose (women’s/men’s epee), and Nathaniel Perez (men’s foil).

Concepcion and Abella earned silver medals in their respective events during the SEA Games, while Jose settled with a bronze medal. Samantha Catantan, a bronze medalist in the SEA Games, is also part of the national team in the coming Olympic qualifiers.

However, the 19-year-old Catantan, the reigning Asian under-23 champion, is currently in the US as a member of Penn State University, a Division 1 school in the US NCAA.

Catantan, who plays in the foil event, is expected to join the rest of the team in the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics, or the Asian Championship, on April 15 to 22 in Seoul, South Korea.

Canlas said they have a total of 21 individuals for the bubble training, which the Philippine Sports Commission approved particularly the health protocols to prevent the infection and spread of COVID-19.

“They already inspected the training facility and the housing where the athletes and coaches will be staying for the next two months, and the PSC officials were satisfied with the set up,” said Canlas.

“Aside from the Olympic qualifiers, we’ll also have their training or sparring partners. All are excited because finally they’ll have proper training again to prepare for the OQT.”

The schedule, Canlas said, is a twice-a-day training session for the athletes. The athletes and coaches already had their respective swab test results, but they will still be subjected for an antigen test upon arrival at Ormoc City.

If results are negative, they will proceed to the bubble training camp.

Source: Manila Bulletin (