Nathaniel Perez ends PH fencing's Asian individual medal drought
MANILA, Philippines – Nathaniel Perez surprised the Philippine contingent in the opening day of the 2018 Asian U-23 Fencing Championships by striking the country's first Asian fencing individual medal in decades on Tuesday, October 16, at the Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City.
The 22-year-old national fencer barged into the semifinals that guaranteed him a bronze medal and eventually settled for the last spot on the podium as he lost to South Korea's Hwang Booyeong.
"Sobrang happy kasi ang tagal na noong huling may nanalo na Asian level na competition," Perez told Rappler. "Kasi ang hirap pag Asian level. Korea, Japan, China – sila ‘yung talagang magagaling sa fencing world lalo na sa weapon namin sa foil."
(I'm so happy because it's been a long time since someone won in an Asian level competition because it's really hard in the Asian level. Korea, Japan, China are really the good in the fencing world especially in the foil weapon.)
Nathaniel Perez ends PH Fencing’s individual medal drought in the Asian level as he bags the bronze in the Asian U-23 Fencing Championship men’s individual foil event. | via @beebeego09 pic.twitter.com/9VJUWscC7H— Rappler Sports (@RapplerSports) October 16, 2018
Perez all the more cherishes the victory after coming from a lackluster 2018 Asian Games stint where he fell short of expectations.
After placing 9th in the 2014 Incheon Games, the foil specialist aimed for a quarterfinal berth, but ended up finishing 15th overall instead.
"Prior [to the] Asian Games, dami naming training camp and competitions so hindi talaga [maiiwasan] na mag-expect din ako ng mas magandang placement," shared Perez of his disappointments.
"Though hindi naman ako nag-aim ng magmedal din kasi alam ko na malalakas talaga yung mga kalaban ko pero nag-aim ako ng mas mataas pa sana like mga No.8 or 7."
(Prior to the Asian Games, we had a lot of training camps and competitions so it can't be avoided that I would expect a good placement. Though I didn't aim for a medal because I know that my opponents will be really strong, I was hoping that could place No.8 or 7.)
Once in a life time opportunity
The three-time UAAP Fencing MVP's Asian bronze medal becomes a perfect springboard for him to end his 2018 with a blast.
Perez revealed that he received an invitation to train and compete with an American club Saint Louis Fencers Academy based in Missouri from October 29 to January 12.
The Filipino will see action in the regional and national fencing championships as a foreign member of the club.
"Ang US Fencing ngayon, nag-eexcel na sila unlike dati and palakas sila ng palakas lalo na sa weapon namin," explained Perez of his expectations of the experience.
"‘Yung men’s team foil, No.1 sila sa world ranking and meron ding silang [player] naging ranked No.1 na men’s foil."
(US Fencing is excelling now unlike before and they're getting stronger especially in my weapon. Its men's team foil is ranked No.1 in the world and they also have a player that achieved ranked No.1 status in men's foil.)
Although Perez admitted that he was stunned by the level of play in France when the national fencing team to Asian Games trained in Paris for three weeks, he is eager to learn and experience the unorthodox US style of play.
"‘Yung mga US fencers sila ‘yung walang pakialam sa basic. Bale ang gusto lang nila is matalino sila maglaro unlike ‘yung French na mas focus sa basics nila and gusto nila maganda silang tignan," added national fencer.
(US fencers don't care about the basics. They just want you to be smart when you play unlike the French where they focus more on basics and they want their form to be nice.)
Perez won't be able to spend Christmas back home with his family, but he knows that this chance might be the key to Philippine fencing's future performance. – Rappler.com