Ormoc City Mayor and Philippine Fencing Association President Richard Gomez (middle) meets the fencing national team led by head coach Amat Canlas (beside him at left) as Ormoc City welcomes the 21-man delegation for the two-month bubble training. Also in photo are (front row, from left) Lee Ergina, Sandro Sia, Queen Denise Dalmacio, Shawn Nicollei Felipe, Darryl Lumahan, Prince John Francis Felipe, Jylyn Nicanor, Mickyle Rein Bustos, CJ Concepcion, (back row, from left) Noelito Jose, Ramil Endriano, Eric Brando, Edward Daliva, Arman Vernal, Almario Vizcayno, Wilhelmina Lozada, Hanniel Abella, Nathaniel Perez and Justine Gail Tinio. (Photo from Amat Canlas)

With just two months before the Asian Fencing Championship, national team mentor Amat Canlas understands that they have to fast-track everything to help the Filipino fencers prepare for the event.

Canlas is with five of the six fencers that will see action in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament set in April in Seoul, South Korea, and while they are in good physical condition, the lack of proper training, scrimmage and tournaments – all canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – is a setback in their preparation.

The national fencing team hopes to regain their form in a bubble training camp in Ormoc City.

“We’ll do everything we can to get them ready for the tournament,” Canlas told Manila Bulletin in a message exchange Monday. “We can’t do anything anymore in the one year we’re not able to train properly.”

“The good thing about our athletes is that they continued with their training because we got our online sessions. So we – the coaches – we can see where they need to improve.”

“Of course, two months is just a short period, but it’s better than nothing. We are very grateful that finally we’re given a chance to prepare for the OQT, and we’ll try to maximize our time here,” he added.

The five fencers that will see action in the OQT are Jylyn Nicanor (saber) and Christian Jester Concepcion (saber), Hanniel Abella (epee) and Noelito Jose (epee), and Nathaniel Perez (foil).

Nicanor won gold medal in the women’s foil event in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games here in 2019, while Concepcion and Abella earned silver medals in their respective events, and Jose settled with a bronze medal.

The 19-year-old Samantha Catantan, a bronze medalist in the biennial meet, is also part of the national team in the OQT, although 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.

The team had a courtesy call Monday with Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, likewise the president of the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) and second-VP of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

“Mayor Richard is very happy that finally we’re here and we’re back in training. They’re very strict with their health protocols, the QR code we have – athletes and coaches – are only for hotel rooms and training venue,” said Canlas.

“We can’t go out to establishments, which is OK because the reason we’re here is training – we can focus on that. Whatever we want, it’s all provided by Ormoc City and the Philippine Sports Commission.”

The OQT for the Tokyo Olympics is set April 15 to 22.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/02/08/filipino-fencers-start-bubble-training-in-ormoc-city/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=filipino-fencers-start-bubble-training-in-ormoc-city)