Paris Olympics

Fencer Maxine Esteban closes in on Olympic slot, but not for PH team

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Fencer Maxine Esteban closes in on Olympic slot, but not for PH team

TRIUMPHANT. Maxine Esteban, the Filipino fencer now representing Ivory Coast, celebrates a win.

Maxine Esteban Facebook page

Top Filipino fencer Maxine Esteban inches closer to qualifying for the Paris Games, but this time representing Ivory Coast, which she thanked for giving her a ‘shot to retake’ her dream to compete in the Olympics

MANILA, Philippines – Maxine Esteban closes in on becoming the first female fencer from the Philippines to claim an Olympic berth.

But too bad she won’t be representing the country as Esteban, who switched federations after being controversially dropped by the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA), currently leads the race for the direct qualification spot for the African continental zone.

“I will continue to work hard and hopefully take back my dream that people tried to take away from me,” said Esteban, who’s now representing Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) as a naturalized player.

Esteban will compete in a final Olympic qualifying tournament in Washington DC on March 15, looking to officially book a ticket to the Paris Games this July.

An eight-time Philippine champion and multi-World Cup medalist, Esteban ranks second among Asian female foil athletes in the Olympic qualification ranking. 

That means the Filipino-Ivorian fencing standout could have been a solid bet for one of two Asian continental slots to the Paris Games and become the fifth Olympian after world No. 2 pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnasts Carlos Yulo and Aleah Finnegan, and boxer Eumir Marcial 

Last year, Esteban switched federations due to what she said was an “unfair and unjust” treatment by the PFA.

A strong showing in the Washington qualifier would officially hand Esteban an outright Olympic spot, thus skipping the wild card tournament, which is reserved for countries with no fencers directly qualifying in the sport yet.

With Esteban out, the Philippines has no fencer on the list for any direct qualification spot, leaving the PFA to fight for a wild card ticket in April. 

The PFA surprisingly dropped Esteban from the national team last year even if the 23-year-old was the country’s top fencer, citing that she skipped the Philippine qualifiers.

However, Esteban provided documents showing the PFA had excused her from the national trials because she suffered an ACL injury while representing the country in the World Championship in Egypt.

“Not only was I dropped for a reason they excused me from, but the rule was not applied to everyone in the national team,” Esteban, who is currently ranked No. 37 in the world,  said then. 

“That’s why I really worked extra hard this past year. I want to repay Côte d’Ivoire for giving me not just a home but a shot to retake the things I worked so hard for that they (PFA) tried to tear away from me.” –

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