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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Paris-bound fencer Catantan to train in Manila, Italy, France

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A SERIES of training camps in Manila, Italy and France is being readied for Samantha Catantan to prepare her well for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The rigorous camps are what await the 27-year-old Catantan following her arrival on Monday to a heroes welcome at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s Terminal 1 and later at the University of the East Recto campus and at the Philsports fencing hall in Pasig.

Family, fans, well-wishers  and supporters surprised Catantan with their presence when she stepped into the airport’s arrival area, following a flight from New York with her boyfriend, also a fencer, Aidan Johnson.

“I’m gonna have a chance to see my friends and family and train with the national team again, I missed them because of my commitments with Penn State University,” said Catantan, three weeks after  she  earned qualification to the Paris Olympics.

Her mom Aileen, her sisters Sophie and Janna were around, along with Quezon City councilor Joseph Juico.

Samantha Catantan with mother Aileen

Juico, one of the  sons of  former athletics chief Philip Ella Juico, put up a successful sports program that included fencing in the San Francisco del Monte area many years ago and this was where Catantan and her sisters, Ysa, Sophie and Shy, were developed by her present coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr.

School officials, student-athletes and members of the alumni at the UE-Recto campus also had a surprise for Catantan, when teammates brought her to school for a fitting tribute ceremony.

An afternoon visit at the Philippine Sports Commission offices in Vito Cruz also saw Catantan paying chairman Richard Bachmann and commissioner Walter Torres a courtesy call.

Catantan earned a seat for the Philippines during the Asia-Oceania Zonal Olympic Qualifier on in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates last April 28.

Taking a three-week break in the US after the qualifier allowed Catantan a chance to recover from a muscle strain she sustained during the finals match and take care of her final exams at Penn State University.

Catantan competed in the Olympic qualifiers, while wearing brace on her left knee, which underwent surgery 10 months ago, following an injury she sustained during the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in the women’s foil semifinals.

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