Pinay fencer Sam Catantan defies the odds: How she made it to the Paris 2024 Olympics

Pinay fencer Sam Catantan looks back at the challenge of her ACL injury recovery and improbable qualification for the Paris Olympics.

It’s been nearly a month since Filipina fencer Sam Catantan clinched that golden ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympics, and she’s still pinching herself in disbelief. After all, she’s bringing Philippine fencing back to the Summer Games after a 32-year hiatus.

Just a few months ago, Sam was bedridden, recovering from a debilitating injury. Fast forward a year, and she’s now gearing up to cross swords with the world’s best when the Olympics kick off in late July.

In an interview with the online show “Starting Lineup,” Sam opened up about her surreal journey to qualifying via the 2024 Asia-Oceanic Zonal Olympic Qualifier for women’s foil.

“Hindi po ako talaga makapaniwala na we actually made it po, na we’re sending a Filipina fencer in Paris 2024,” Sam shared, still awestruck by her achievement.

Reflecting on her journey, Sam recalled the heartbreak of tearing her ACL during the Southeast Asian games in Cambodia in May 2023, a setback to her dreams of qualifying for the Olympics.

“Starting April 2023 to April 2024, that is Olympic season ng fencing. Yun ang mga tournaments na pwede mag accumulate ng points para mag qualify for Olympics. Nung napunit ACL ko, nawala na chance ko to make it without joining qualification tournaments,” recalled the 22-year-old fencer.

“So hindi ko expect na possible pa na umabot pa sa Olympic Qualifiers last April dahil sa count namin 10 months bago ako makabalik sa competitive level,” she added.

Despite the odds, Sam refused to throw in the towel. She fought through her injury with relentless determination and a rock-solid support system.

“I think I have a very strong support system, family ko, friends ko, teammates ko and buong fencing community sa Pilipinas. Grabe suporta pati ng Philippine Fencing Association, POC (Philippine Olympic Committee), and PSC (Philippine Sports Commission), of course,” she said.

“We didn’t know that I’m going to make it in that tournament. I’m very blessed and thankful for the path that we’re able to get to that spot,” she added.