Maxine Esteban is making the most of her recovery time to make sure that she will be prepared for a busy 2023 schedule in a bid to qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
In an interview, the 21-year-old fencer said she is trying to stay positive despite cutting her 2022 season short after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury while competing in the 2022 World Fencing Championships in Cairo last July.
She said she knows that the coming year will be very busy with the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, 19th Asian Games and several Olympic qualifying tournaments on tap so she has to do her best to recover and be ready.
“With my ACL surgery, there will be a lot of adjustments,” said the 21-year-old Esteban, a former Ateneo de Manila University student.
“This isn’t the first time that I had a major setback. I also underwent two major hand surgeries in 2015 that required so many adjustments.”
“Like always, I take each one as a challenge. I will use the next few months to the fullest so I can come back stronger.”
Esteban said she has to be very careful once she gets cleared to return to action.
“The unique characteristic of ACL recovery is that we cannot overdo training,” Esteban, who won a silver medal in the Hanoi SEA Games, said.
“We have to do things slowly to avoid recurrence. We will have to find the right balance of quality and safe training, participation in useful competitions only, to make sure that we are right on track with the goal without compromising safety.”
Esteban said she is looking forward to training in Italy by January provided that she gets a clean bill of health from her doctors.
“I plan to fly back the first week of January after I receive my clearance from my doctor,” she said.
“If everything goes well with my recovery, yes, I will be good for it. Of course, we cannot predict the future. Just like how everything was right on track for me before the world championship, but now I have been sidetracked for half a year due to my torn ACL.”
“If God willing, yes, I will be ready.”
Still, the ultimate goal is to become the first Filipino fencer to qualify in the Olympics since Walter Torres saw action in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
“My goal is to qualify for the 2024 Olympics,” she said.
“However, as I’ve mentioned, due to this injury, I need to be conservative and realistic. For now, I am concentrating on my recovery.”
“I know that this is also a very crucial part of my return to competitive sports. So, in the meantime, I plan to start light to moderate training around December. Then, I plan to go full training around January. If given the go signal, I would like to start competing again this January.”