After a rough start, Fil-Am fencer aims to bring home the gold | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

BRENNAN in his Philippine national fencing team gear
BRENNAN in his Philippine national fencing team gear
BRENNAN in his Philippine national fencing team gear

FILIPINO-AMERICAN Brennan Louie may be a new member of the Philippine national fencing team, but he has gone through challenges prior to the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore.

Brennan comes from a sports-loving family. He recalls that his siblings
started playing basketball at a very young age. This helped him develop an aggressive mind-set when it comes to pursuing goals.

“I am not hesitant on what I want to achieve in life,” Brennan says.
It was through his father, a commercial real estate broker and also a fencer, that Brennan discovered an interest in fencing. “When I was 9, I just wanted to be like my father.

That’s when I started taking fencing classes,” he recounts. The 23-year-old Psychology and Double Movement major at the University of California became serious with the sport and competed in many international tournaments.

It was only last year that Brennan became aware of the Philippine fencing
team through his friend, Wilfred Curioso, who’s also a fencer. “Wilfred, our team captain in this year’s SEA Games, told me last year that we should try out for the national fencing team of the Philippines since we’re both Filipinos and our skills are good enough to represent the country,” he says.

CHINESE collared polo and shorts, Sfera
CHINESE collared polo and shorts, Sfera

Journey to SEAG
“My journey to be part of the nationalfencing team was tough and
hard,” Brennan confesses. Within the first hour of his arrival
in the Philippines, he was fooled by his cab driver, who asked him to
cough up P1,500 for his ride from the airport.

“I was taken advantage of because I didn’t know how things go. The cab
driver dropped me off and later I realized that I paid him too much,” he says.
Despite the incident, Brennan admits that one of his biggest struggles
is missing his family. “I’ve got a big family and we’re really
close. It’s them that I miss the most,” he says.

When Brennan came to the Philippines last year to compete in the September open, he was put in the same poule as Nathaniel Perez, a University Athletic Association of the Philippines fencing star who’s currently ranked first in fencing in the country.

“When I arrived at the fencing hall, everyone was pointing to a guy,
Nathaniel Perez. Everyone was telling me that he’s the No. 1 guy,” Brennan recalls. Heaving a sigh of relief, he says: “Thankfully, I didn’t underperform. And Nathaniel is a good guy.”

After competing in the country in October 2014, Brennan headed back to the United States to represent the Philippines at the Coupe du Monde World Cup in San Francisco.

He returned to Manila in January 2015 for a competition which was also his last chance to qualify for the SEA Games.

Although he did well in the poules, he lost to teammate and 2007 SEA Games individual gold medalist Emerson Segui. Brennan went back to the United
States with a heavy heart. “I walked in and underestimated my opponents,”
he admits. “After that game, I felt that I didn’t have a chance to be
part of the SEA Games team. I didn’t think I had a shot. At that point I was
completely devastated.”

PRINTED polo and navy blue shorts, Sfera
PRINTED polo and navy blue shorts, Sfera

Good news
But good news came to Brennan last February when he received a letter
from Venerando Garcia, head coach of the Philippine fencing team. The letter stated that Brennan has been chosen to represent the Philippines
at the SEA Games in Singapore.

“I was ecstatic and happy when I received that letter but I was also a
little bit troubled,” Brennan says. He returned to the Philippines toward
the end of March and trained with the national team twice a day, six days a week.

In the morning he took private lessons, while at night, the whole team trained from 7 to 10 p.m. at the fencing hall in Ultra, Pasig. The team and their coaches then went to Hong Kong in May to train for three weeks with the Hong Kong team.

Brennan, who trained with his Hong Kong counterparts three times a day, says that playing with fencers who are part of the top 16 in the world is a very humbling experience. “It’s a huge confidence boost to know that my teammates and I can swing with the giants. It was great for everybody else in the team. We might be a small fencing country but we can keep up with some of the best fencers in the world,” he says.

He sees Singapore and Thailand as their toughest competitors in the SEA
Games, and considers Thailand and Beijing Olympian Nontapat Panchan a big threat.

Brennan has only one goal in this year’s SEA Games—for him and the team to bring home gold medals. “I think I’ve put sufficient work which makes me and my teammates ready for the SEA Games. I’m looking forward to the competition. And I’ll get my reward there, when I get to be on the SEA Games stage,” Brennan says with pride.

Photography John Kevin Navarro
Styling Daryl Baybado
Grooming and hairstyle Adana Bautista

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