PHILIPPINE fencing team head coach Rolando Canlas (left) with bronze medal-winning fencer Sam Catantan at the recent Asia-Oceania Qualification Tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. — PHILIPPINE SPORTSWRITERS ASSOCIATION FB PAGE

GIVEN the limitations presented by the pandemic, holding training “bubbles” for national athletes is a viable option to take but should be conducted under firm compliance of health and safety protocols.

Speaking at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Philippine fencing team head coach Rolando Canlas shared that their training bubble in Ormoc City, Leyte, was rendered a success thanks in large part to all their members’ conscious adherence to the guidelines agreed with the local government unit.

The national fencers entered their training bubble in February in preparation for their campaign in the just-concluded Asia-Oceania Qualification Tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The team found a willing host for its training in Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, who incidentally is the president of the Philippine Fencing Association.

Mr. Canlas said working under a bubble setup was very challenging and required a lot of discipline on their part to make it successful; something they were willing to do seeing how it will go far in helping achieve their goals of staying in shape in preparation for important competitions abroad.

“We had a successful training bubble because we followed all the health protocols of the LGU. Ormoc was one of the first to lock down to guard against the coronavirus and while it was relatively open there we still did not let our guard down,” said Mr. Canlas in Filipino.

The fencing coach said their movement was mostly confined to a hotel-training venue-hotel and when they did gather outside of training, they made sure that it was mostly among the members of the team.

“A training bubble is doable and something other organizations should consider if they are given the opportunity. But like what I have said, their success largely depends on how they follow the protocols.”

In the Asia-Oceania Qualification Tournament which happened from April 25-26 the Philippine team was able to win a bronze medal in the women’s foil event care of Sam Catantan, a member of the Penn State University fencing team.

Other national fencers who competed were Nathaniel Perez, Jylyn Nicanor, Noelito Jose, Hanniel Abella, and CJ Concepcion.

With the qualifiers over, the Philippine team is now focusing on the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam later this year, eyeing another bubble in Ormoc both for the tryouts and training. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo