Maxine Esteban saddened Sam Catantan dragged into PH fencing issue


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Maxine Esteban saddened Sam Catantan dragged into PH fencing issue

FIGHTER. Maxine Esteban takes a break during a fencing competition.


‘It was never a fight between me and Sam,’ says Olympic-bound Maxine Esteban of top-ranked Philippine fencer Samantha Catantan

MANILA, Philippines – The perceived Philippine fencing rivalry between former teammates Maxine Esteban and Samantha Catantan isn’t exactly the issue.

That’s what Esteban pointed out days after the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) issued a statement “to set the record straight” on the controversies surrounding the Olympic-bound athlete’s decision to switch nationalities.  

“It saddens me to see my teammate’s name brought up in this issue. It was never a fight between me and Sam,” said Esteban in a social media post on Saturday, April 6.

“It was my quest for JUSTICE against my removal from the national team despite being issued an approved WRITTEN excuse letter to skip all local qualifiers and training while recovering from my surgery.” 

Esteban had accused the PFA of dropping her from the Philippine team while recovering from an ACL injury she suffered during competition, describing the move as “extremely hurtful, unfair, and disrespectful.”

Amid the controversy, the 23-year-old Esteban opted to become a naturalized player for Ivory Coast and completed her quest to book a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics last March.

“It hurt me seeing her name brought up as she was not only my teammate, she was my best friend,” said Esteban of Catantan.

“We grew up together, we made historic wins together, we lost together, and most importantly, we dreamt together.” 

In a statement on Wednesday, April 3, the PFA defended its decision to send Catantan to the Olympic qualifiers, saying she’s the country’s No. 1 fencer in the women’s foil category as evidenced by competition results and statistics.

“I have always been protective of my teammates,” said Esteban. “Their problems were mine too. Therefore, I would really appreciate it if we stop writing negative comments about her as she is not at fault here.” 

Esteban also noted that there’s no rivalry between her and rising fencing star Juliana Gomez, who recently defended her UAAP epee title.

“Likewise, I appeal to all of you to refrain from dragging Juliana Gomez’s name in this issue as well,” the former Ateneo standout said.

“Juliana is a friend. She is an up and coming brilliant fencer making a name for herself. She fences epee, a different weapon from me.”

Esteban wished Catantan well as the Filipina fencer – a former UAAP star now competing in the US NCAA with Penn State University – bids to qualify in the Paris Games through the Asian wild card tournament this month.

“As she is now preparing for the wild card tournament, she needs all the focus. I know this, as I was in the same situation the past year as I strove for direct qualification while going through all the drama, anxiety, and sleepless nights that affected my performance as well,” said Esteban.

“Without me in her way now, I wish her all the best in the upcoming wild card qualifier, and hope she qualifies.” – Rappler.com 

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