Editor's note: As part of our coverage of the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from August 18 to September 2, we will be previewing the different national teams that will see action for the Philippines.
2014 Asian Games performance
The Philippines only had two representatives in fencing for the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Nathaniel Perez and Wilfred Richard Curioso both competed in Individual Foil. Unfortunately, both of them got eliminated in the Round of 16. After a respectable 4-1 slate in the preliminary round, Perez lost to Majed Al-Mansoori of UAE to the score of 15-11. Curioso was dominated by Chen Haiwei of China, 15-5. Chen eventually went on to win a bronze medal.
2018 Asian Games representatives
Justin Gail Tinio
From having only two fencers in Incheon for the 2014 Asian Games, the Philippines takes a big leap by sending seven to Jakarta for this year's edition of the competition. It was even supposed to be eight, before an injury prevented Noel Jose from participating.
"The 2017 SEA Games served as the qualifier for this year's Asian Games," said Hanniel Abella, who will represent the country in Women's Individual Epee. "A good number of our fencers brought home medals from Kuala Lumpur so that's why we have more fencers competing in Indonesia."
The Philippine fencing team hauled one gold, three silvers and two bronze medals in the biennial meet in Malaysia last year. That included a gold-silver finish for Brennan Louie and Nathaniel Perez in Men's Individual Foil. Abella herself bagged a silver in her event.
After showing dominance in the regional games, the team's next goal is to finally win the country's first fencing medal in the Asian Games.
The team is hellbent on ending the Philippines' medal drought in Asian fencing. That's the reason they hold twice-a-day trainings at the Fencing Hall of the Philippine Sports Complex.
However, their most important education happened far from the walls of that hall.
"Back in May, we spent entire month training in Paris, France," Abella shared. "It was huge for us to be able to train outside Asia because you get to go up against world champions, against Olympians."
Training camps have always been part of the team's preparations for major competitions. But their travels have normally been limited to Asian countries. The team made sure they made the most of their trip to France.
"When we're training abroad, we try to join every competition we can. Luckily we were able to visit a lot of fencing clubs in France so we collected both experience and exposure," Abella added.
A week after getting back from France, the Philippine team went out on another journey. This time they made their way to Bangkok, Thailand to participate in the Asian Fencing Championships.
Though the team failed to bring home any medal from the competitions, it still proved to be significant in their Asian Games preparation. "Some of the athletes that we could be facing in the Asian Games were also competing in Thailand. That gave us a glimpse of what to expect in Indonesia," said Abella.
Two weeks after the competition in Thailand, the entire team left again to compete in the World Fencing Championships in Wuxi, China. It was another trip that ended with a zero medal count, but it served as excellent grounds for team building.
"Usually, the Worlds are held in Europe so they only get to send some of us. Since it was just in Asia this year, we wanted to make the most of it. It was our first time to participate in the Worlds as a complete team." Abella shared, emphasizing how much of a morale boost it was for the team.
The Philippine fencing team had a busy schedule leading up to the Asiad. They had a month-long training camp in France before joining competitions one after the other. They, however, believe that this is the best way to prepare for their coming competition.
Prognosis for Jakarta
In 2014, Korea proved to be the force in fencing as they won 17 medals, eight of which were golds. Abella says they will continue to be the biggest hindrance to our first Asiad medal in the sport.
"They will remain to be the powerhouse, along with China and Hong Kong. Those countries are represented by world champions," she said. "But we're confident that even though we're not world champions or we're not as skilled as them, we still have a chance of winning. We know that we trained well for this competition. We believe we can overcome tougher opponents."