Solid grassroot programs vital to build stronger athletes -coach

Former national coach Rolando ‘Amat’ Canlas Jr. believes the current crop of young fencers have a good chance of making it to the Olympics. Canlas said a stable program starting at the grassroots level all the way to the national team would make that happen. ‘We should really be consistent in the program, starting at the grassroots level like this age group, that’s why we have this kind of tournament that we want to strengthen,’ Canlas said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) forum at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) conference hall inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Tuesday. ‘If we have a solid program for the grassroots, the children will get stronger and one to two years, they will be in the national team. From there, we have the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the Asian Games. All fencers dream of entering the Olympics,’ he said. Canlas is the head of the Canlas Fencing Club which organized the 1st Burlington Inter-Club International Challenge at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City last week. Last month, a four-member national team bannered by Noelito Jose joined the World Championships in Milan, Italy –a qualifier for the Paris Olympics. Next year, the national fencers will compete at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The last Filipino fencer to compete in Olympics was Walter Torres, who is now a PSC commissioner. He won a gold medal in the SEA Games to get an automatic spot in the 1992 Barcelona Games in Spain. Fencers around the world must join qualifiers where they get world-ranking points to qualify for the Olympics. ‘As a fencer, the goal is to compete in the Olympics,’ said 13-year-old Catantan, who bagged four gold medals in the Burlington International representing University of the East and Canlas Fencing. She is the sister of national players Samantha and Ysah.

Source: Philippines News Agency