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PH loses top fencer as Maxine Esteban switches to Ivory Coast

Maxine Esteban representing Ateneo in UAAP S82. UAAP File Photo

by Drew Malihan

MANILA - One country's loss is another one's gain.

Maxine Esteban has secured both the Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) and the International Fencing Federation's (FIE) approval to represent Ivory Coast for a chance at an Olympic berth in Paris.

Esteban, ranked 84th in FIE's women's foil rankings, gets the nod from PFA to represent the West African nattion, with the latter writing to the FIE to waive the three-year residency rule to make the switch immediately.

The 22-year-old is also seeking approval from the Philippine Olympic Committee for the same.

PFA president Richard Gomez, in a letter to FIE chief executive officer Nathalie Rodriguez, said that "we support her change of nationality representation to Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) as she is also a naturalized citizen."

"As we believe in and support the Olympic spirit that sports know no nationalities, we are happy for Maxine for her decision, and as such we are requesting for the FIE to waive the 3-year waiting period of her representation in Cote d’Ivoire so that she can continue, without interruption all training in all FIE competitions, for her personal improvement and goal achievement," Gomez added.

Esteban, an eight-time national champion in women's foil, is a four-time UAAP champion for Ateneo de Manila and has once reached an all-time high rank of 62.

She is slated to compete in the Coupe Du Monde and Coupe Du Monde Par Equipes this weekend in Tblisi, Georgia, now playing under the Ivorian flag.

The fencer has represented the Philippines previously in various international tournaments including the World Championship in Paris this year.

Follow him on Twitter: @drew_corner

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