Filipino teen fencer Samantha Kyle Catantan made history when she won the gold medal in the Asian Under 23 Fencing Championships on Thursday night in Bangkok, Thailand.
She was the first Filipino champion in the Asian U23 fencing tournament.
The 17-year-old edged out Choi Yu Min of South Korea, 15-9, in the women’s individual foil final.
“There are many world-class contenders in this competition with the likes of Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. But I know that Sam (Catantan) is also a contender to win the gold because of her high mental toughness,” Philippine fencing team coach Rolando Canlas Jr. told The Manila Times in an online interview.
After outplaying four opponents in the earlier rounds, Catantan overcame hand cramps en route to beating Choi for the gold medal.
Catantan came from behind to stun another South Korean, Choi Minseo, 15-14, in the semifinals after making short work of Malaysian bet Philippa Ong Jiyi, 15-4, in the quarterfinals.
Seeded second out of 39 athletes, the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games silver medalist crushed Thailand’s Natnicha Woravijit, 15-4, before escaping Chinese Taipei’s Chin Man Yang, 15-14, in round 16.
“I just told her to play with no pressure and that this is our training for the SEA Games,” said Canlas. Catantan will compete in the biennial meet that will be hosted by the Philippines from November 30 to December 11.
Catantan was ranked 16th cadet fencer in the world in April this year.
She copped her second gold medal in the Asian competition as she led the Philippine team, together with Maxime Esteban, Justin Tinio and Wilhelmina Lozada, to a golden finish against Hong Kong last year at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The University Athletic Association of the Philippines juniors MVP from University of the East bagged a bronze medal in her category in the previous Asian Under 23 tilt.