MAXINE Esteban, who was cut from the national team early this year due to injury, is taking her act to the West African country of Côte d’Ivoire, also known as Ivory Coast.
The 21-year-old Esteban has informed Philippine Fencing Association president Richard Gomez and the Philippine Olympic Committee of her decision to change her nationality.
Esteban will first seek out a three-year residency period in her new place of residence, before she will be able to suit up for the Côte d’Ivoire national team.
“My immediate transfer will allow me to continue with my training and competition without interruption, as well as share my skills and talents with a smaller fencing community in Côte d’Ivoire,” said Esteban in a letter she sent to POC president and Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
The PFA has given its to Esteban’s request.
“Nagpaalam na siya na lilipat na siya ng nationality. From the Philippines, punta na siya sa Côte d’Ivoire na kinukuha naman siya,” said Tolentino after getting a copy of Esteban’s letter.
Esteban last competed for the Philippines in the 2022 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi with the women’s team foil team, which bagged a silver.
She was hoping to seek out a ticket to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, before she got sidelined by an ACL injury while representing the Philippines at the World Championship in Cairo, Egypt in July, 2022.
Before her injury, Esteban was training and preparing for international meets under legendary coach Andrea Magro.
Esteban even became the world’s no. 62, the highest rank ever reached by a Filipino fencer.
She managed to recover last January, after Esteban got the green light from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Edgar Eufemio.
But Esteban was cut from the national fencing team to the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia at that time.
For Esteban, this will mean a longer wait for her to be able to see action. The nearest tournament she can hope to join if she qualifies is the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, once she completes her residency period.