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3 teenagers in PH fencing squad

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Twelve athletes have been named to represent the country in the fencing competition of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in August in Kuala Lumpur.

Led by 2015 silver medalist Harlene Raguin and bronze winner Nathaniel Perez, the team includes three teenagers who will mark their debut in the biennial Games.

They are Samantha Kyle Catantan, 15, and Maxine Isabel Esteban, 16, who will see action in the women’s individual foil event and 17-year-old Reynaldo Perez Jr., who will compete in the men’s epee event.

The other members of the team are Brennan Wayne Louie, Noelito Jose, Eric Brando II, Hanniel Abella, Jylyn Nicanor, Clichelleyn del Rosario and rookie Donnie Arth Navarro.

Raguin, the most senior member of the squad at 33, reached the women’s epee final two years ago in Singapore, losing to Thi Len Tran of Vietnam, 11-7.

Perez, on the other hand, lost to Minh Quang Nguyen of Vietnam, 15-14, in the men’s individual foil semifinals.

Louie, a Fil-American who grew up in California, will be the country’s other entry in men’s foil. He was a member of the team that took the bronze two years ago.

Abella was also part of the women’s epee squad that took the silver.

Jose will compete alongside Perez in the men’s epee while Nicanor and Del Rosario return for the women’s sabre event.
Brando takes another crack at the men’s epee event.

All 12 were chosen after three monthly ranking tournaments, according to Sally Aramburo of the Philippine Fencing Association.

Esteban, a student at Immaculate Concepcion Academy in Greenhills, is one of the country’s rising stars.

She won the gold medal in the Cadet division and took the bronze in the Open of the Thailand championships last year.

She was also a silver medalist in the Malaysian Open also held the same year.

Last March, Esteban flew to France to train and is expected to be back next month in time for the Asian fencing championships set June 15-20 in Hong Kong.

The rest of the team holds twice a day training sessions at the Philsports Arena.

A month-long training in Seoul, South Korea is being planned for the national team in July, according to Aramburo.

Fencing is a traditional source of medals for the Philippines.

During the 2005 Games hosted by the country, the fencers captured five gold, three silver and five bronze medals.

However, the Filipinos took only four silvers and two bronzes in Singapore.

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