MANILA, Philippines – Southeast Asian Games fencing gold medalist Samantha Catantan is in need of big help from private companies as she continues to pursue her dream of playing in the Olympics.
Catantan, the top ranked fencer in women’s foil, hopes to participate in the World Fencing Championships set from July 15 to 23 in Cairo, Egypt – the first meet in two years after the previous two were called off because of the global pandemic brought by COVID-19.
The request of the national team, where Catantan is a member, has yet to receive a response from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). Since the event is just two weeks away, Catantan is now looking for ways to join the tournament.
“If it was approved, we’ll not reach out for help because it’ll be funded by the government (PSC),” said Catantan, who won the Philippines’ lone fencing gold medal in the Vietnam SEA Games last month.
“We understand the PSC, that’s why we’re asking, looking for help. This is big for fencing because of the ranking points we can earn in the tournament,” she said.
The 20-year-old Catantan, who is in the country after she finished her second year as a student-athlete scholar at Penn State University, eyes an outright spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Unlike in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she participated in the OQT, or the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Catantan said she wanted to earn a ticket in the Paris Olympics by earning points through the World Championships, World Cups, Asian Championships, and other regional events.
In the Asian Championship last June 10 to 15, Catantan finished 13th overall in women’s foil event.
That ranking – which has corresponding points – will add up to the next events, reason why not missing the World Championship in Cairo is very important for the former University of the East star fencer.
“If I’ll not join the tournament, the points that I got in the AFC will go to waste,” said Catantan, who is hoping to raise $3,000 to be able to join World Championship – or approximately P156,000.
“That’s why I’m asking for help. I know there are private companies that love sports… that they have not just a soft spot, but the heart to help Filipino athletes like me – dreaming of becoming an Olympian,” she added.
Catantan is actually part of eight Filipinos athletes who were approved last September by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino for the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship Grant, a program that is under the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The program will allow the local Olympic body to receive a $7,500 monthly allowance from the IOC to be divided to eight athletes, or $937.50 a month per athlete (approximately P49,600).
Catantan said she already received the allowances from January to April, but she intends to use the money use to participate in World Cup events.
“In our sports, there is only one World Championship, which will happen in Egypt. Then there is also the World Cup, which is played in different countries and it also gives ranking points,” said Catantan.
“The government, through the PSC, provides assistance in World Championship participation – the only exception is this year. But for the World Cup, they don’t, that’s why I’m saving the funds from the IOC for my World Cup participation,” she added. – Rappler.com