Maxine Esteban Nears Paris Olympics Berth with Ivory Coast Switch

Maxine Esteban Nears Paris Olympics Berth with Ivory Coast Switch

Fencer Maxine Esteban, who made headlines last year for her switch from representing the Philippines to Ivory Coast, is on the verge of securing a ticket to the Paris Olympics.

Esteban is set to compete in the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Washington DC on March 15, where she aims to solidify her place in the Summer Games. Currently, she leads the race for the direct qualification spot for the African continental zone.

Having become a naturalized citizen of Ivory Coast, Esteban’s decision to switch federations in May 2023 was driven by a desire for “self-respect.” Despite the challenges she faced, including controversy surrounding her departure from the Philippine Fencing Association, Esteban remained determined to pursue her Olympic dream.

“I will continue to work hard and hopefully take back my dream that people tried to take away from me,” remarked Esteban, a former standout athlete from Ateneo de Manila University who now holds the world ranking of No. 37 in fencing.

A strong performance in the upcoming Washington qualifier would secure Esteban an outright Olympic berth, bypassing the need for a wild card tournament typically reserved for countries without direct qualifiers in the sport.

Esteban’s transfer to Ivory Coast left the Philippine Fencing Association without a representative in the direct qualification spots. Nevertheless, the association plans to send its top-ranked fencers to vie for a wild card slot in April.

Reflecting on her journey, Esteban expressed gratitude to Ivory Coast for providing her not only with a new home but also with an opportunity to reclaim her hard-earned achievements. Her determination to succeed despite adversity serves as an inspiration, underscoring the resilience and tenacity of athletes in pursuit of their dreams.