PHNOM PENH – Noelito Garcia Jr. doesn’t regret his shift from arnis to fencing because he has a handful of Southeast Asian Games medals to show for it.
The 26-year-old Garcia, who made the decision to become a fencer in 2015, grabbed a silver in the men’s epee individual event on Saturday in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games at Hall D of the OCIC Wedding Center in Chroy Changvar District here.
“Para sa akin tama lang ang pagpalit ko ng sport kasi masaya ako sa naabot ko. (I made the right choice and I am happy of my accomplishments),” said Garcia, who also had a silver in the 2022 Vietnam SEA Games and bronze in the 2018 PH edition.
The chase for that elusive gold continues late Sunday as a member of the epee team, which is backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
He had to shift to fencing because arnis wasn’t part of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines calendar.
Garcia, who began practicing the Filipino martial arts in Grade 5, had his biggest accomplishment as an “arnisador” when he bagged the gold in the 2013 Dumaguete Palarong Pambansa secondary boys’ (51-55) featherweight division.
It was, however, as a fencer that he became an athletic scholar of the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Bachelor of Physical Education Sports, Wellness and Management, before becoming a national pool/team member for nearly a decade now.
“Next target ko sana makalaro sa (19th) Asian Games (2023) sa Hangzhou, China (September 23 to October 8. (I want to play in the Asian Games),” said the full-time national athlete.