Fencing's Esteban now an Ivorian Olympian

Fencing's Esteban now an Ivorian Olympian
Maxine Esteban
Augusto Bizzi / FIE

MANILA, Philippines -- Maxine Esteban is officially an Olympian.

The Filipino-Ivorian fencer clinched the lone African singles spot in women’s foil, making her the first homegrown Filipino female fencer to clinch an Olympic berth

“I am at a loss for words. Where do I begin?” Esteban wrote on her Facebook page.

“This journey is truly a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Today, I am in awe of His love for me and I am grateful He has carried me through.”

Later, the eight-time Philippine national champion and World Cup multi-medalist said that journey will continue in Paris, where she gets to compete against the world’s best fencers.

“This is not the end,” she said of her qualification. “This is just part of the ongoing journey. There will be more days of hard work ahead, all to make sure that I won’t be satisfied with just making an appearance at the Paris Olympics but use that grand stage as a chance to compete and test myself again.”

Esteban competed in the final Olympic qualifier in Washington D.C. in the United States. And although she lost in the second-round match, she had already collected enough points from previous Olympic qualifier competitions to directly qualify for Paris. 

“This is for Cote d’Ivoire, the country that embraced me, believed in me, and supported me all the way,  and this is for the Philippines, the country my heart will always beat proud,” Esteban said.

As she begins preparations for the Paris Games, Esteban is hoping she will not be the only Filipino fencer seeing action in this year’s Olympiad.

“I am praying that the Philippines will be able to qualify more fencers in April,” Esteban said, referring to a wild card tournament next month that will be participated in by Asian countries that failed to directly qualify for the Olympics. 

For now, Esteban will continue to work with Andrea Magro, the famed Italian fencing coach who has mentored several Olympic gold medalists, in whipping up a battle plan for Paris. 

She is hoping that her milestone will inspire “those who dream and have at one point almost given up, to persist amidst storms and rough waters.”

“I’d like to thank my parents and my entire family for their support and for those who helped to make sure the door would be always open for me to  continue chasing my dreams, like POC president Abraham Tolentino, who chose to extend a helping hand when I needed it the most,” Esteban said. 

Esteban is scheduled to fly back to Manila in May for a short vacation before she launches into her final training camp for Paris.

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