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Esteban stays focused, hungry

A noted Italian mentor is thrilled to see Maxine Esteban’s determination to clinch a spot in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Andrea Magro said he is delighted to see Esteban’s progress as she is doing what it takes to become the first Filipino fencer to see action in the Summer Games since Walter Torres competed in the men’s individual foil event in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

The 61-year-old Magro, who sharpened the skills of six-time Olympic gold medalist Valentina Vezzali of Italy, said he hopes Esteban can start training in the middle of January after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury while competing in the 2022 World Fencing Championships in Cairo last July.

“You know, high level performance and dreams need a long process,” said Magro, who has been coaching Esteban since 2020, in an interview.

“I’m so lucky as a coach to have an athlete who wants to learn every day. She really wants to improve and she’s doing what it takes to go to the Olympic Games.”

Magro, a six-time Olympic coach who also trained the national fencers of Japan, Kuwait and the United States, said making it to the Summer Games is not an overnight process.

“This is a true secret,” said Magro, who also prepared American fencer Nzingha Prescod for the Tokyo Olympics last year.

“We have to prepare hard so that we will be ready when the time comes. Now during the rehabilitation, we want her to be back in competition in Paris in the middle of January.”

Aside from the calendar of events of the International Fencing Federation, the upcoming season will also be very challenging for the 22-year-old Esteban as she competes in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia and the 19th Asian Games in China.

Esteban is currently attending to her rehabilitation in Manila and is tipped to fly to Italy in the first week of 2023, just in time for the World Cup from 12 to 14 January.

“I’m going to fly to Italy on the first week of January and I’m going to stay there for a year,” Esteban said.

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