MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine fencing team will not settle for anything less than the overall title in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host later this month.
The last the Philippines hosted the biennial event in 2005, the local fencers emerged as overall champions with five gold medals, five silvers, and a couple of bronzes.
"That's our aim. We are targeting three to four golds," said head coach Rolando Canlas Jr. in Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.
"We want all our fencers to win medals. If not the gold, then a silver or bronze," he added.
Fencing will be staged at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from December 3 to 8. A total of 12 gold medals will be disputed among fencers from nine competing countries — men’s and women’s individual and team events in foil, epee and sabre.
Canlas, a gold and bronze medalist in 2005, is confident that the 24-member national team will deliver.
"With help from the Philippine Sports Commission, they were provided with everything from foreign exposure, foreign coach, nutrition, conditioning and sports psychology. They are all excited," he said.
The country's top fencers, including Noelito Jose Jr., Nathaniel Perez, CJ Concepcion, Nicole Cortey and reigning Asian Under-23 champion Samantha Catantan graced the forum.
In the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, the Filipinos failed to win a single gold and instead settled for a handful of silver medals. They marked their return to the top in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, with a gold, three silvers, and two bronzes.
Canlas said full support from the government and top fencing officials led by Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez and Celso Dayrit has given the fencers enough motivation to deliver the gold.
They vied in major overseas competitions prior to this SEA Games, including Asian and World championships, and underwent intensive training in South Korea from September 3 to October 3. They will vie in the Taiwan Open from November 14 to 18 in time for the SEA Games scheduled November 30 to December 11.
"They really improved a lot. The confidence level is very high. When we compete overseas, even the Koreans are now taking videos of our fencers," said Canlas.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.