Former national coach Rolando “Amat” Canlas Jr. is doing his share in helping discover and develop fencers at the grassroots level.
Canlas underscored the importance of identifying potential talents who could someday join the national team and eventually qualify for the Olympics.
Through his Canlas Fencing Club, Canlas recently organized the highly successful 1st Burlington Inter-Club International Challenge held last week at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.
This served as his modest contribution to the country’s goal of producing Olympic fencers in the future.
“We have to be consistent in our program, right from the grassroots level, in this age group. That’s why we have this kind of tournament that we wish to strengthen,” Canlas said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum yesterday.
“If we have a solid program for the grassroots, we’ll develop strong young fencers and after one to two years they’ll be in the national team.”
Canlas was joined by University of the East 13-year-old star Sophia Catantan, sister of national team members Samantha and Ysah, who won four gold medals in the tournament.
Also present in the weekly forum were Louis Shoemaker and Nina Canlas of UE, Antonio Manuel of Paref, Ateneo de Manila University’s Faber Cabrera, Enrico Fuentes of Southridge, Meagan Co Say of Republic Fencing, Miyake Capina of De La Salle-Zobel and Zoe Atilano of CF.
National team members are currently looking to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics through qualifying meets.
Noelito Jose led three other Pinoy fencers who competed in the World Championships in Italy, one of the qualifying meets for the Summer Games, last month.
Jose and other fencers including Samantha Catantan, who is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury she suffered during the 32nd Southeast Asian Games last May, will see action in the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament in April 2024.
Walter Torres, now a commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, was the last Filipino fencer to see action in the Olympics during the 1992 Barcelona Games in Spain. He qualified after earning an automatic slot in the SEA Games.