Special games in Palaro gather standout athletes

Benise P. Balaoing
Posted on 05/03/2012 11:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Greatness knows no limits.

As May 6, 2012 draws near, young athletes are training as hard as ever—waking up early, doing their warm-ups, pushing their potential to its limits—despite their physical and intellectual impairments.

They are the participants of the Palarong Pambansa 2012’s special games for the differently abled. Disabilities, for them, are no hindrances to success.

Sports, after all, was created for everyone—abled and disabled alike.

Beginnings

Introduced in 2007, the Special Games in the Palaro aim to “show that no kids get left behind,” Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Armin Luistro said.

From about 50 participants when it was introduced, the number has increased to close to 100 in 2009 and 145 in 2010, according to DepEd.

The games are open to various children with special needs—physically challenged, visually impaired, hearing impaired-- from special education (SPED) schools all over the country, as well as to the autistic, gifted, talented, or those whose mental age is below their physical age.

Games for the differently abled for the 2012 Palaro include athletics (100m dash, 200m dash, 4X100-meter relay, long jump, shotput), and aquatics (100m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 100m breaststroke).

Some games are also limited for athletes with a specific condition. Goalball, a game in which players try to throw balls embedded with bells into the opponent’s goal, is held for the visually impaired. Bocce, a game similar to bowling, is held for the visually impaired and the mentally challenged.

Special champions

The special games in Palaro have produced champions that have shone in international competitions. Last year, Aivie Dungca, Shella May Suniega, Raymond Macasaet and Rodney Gutang won the gold medal in the 4X50 freestyle relay division in the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens.

Macasaet also won a silver medal in the 50m-freestyle category and a bronze medal in the 100m-freestyle category.

Mcmerill Jean Derama, John Brian Menoza, and Lizamel Dayon from Western Visayas also made it to the Athens games. Derama won 4 gold medals in the bocce team category and 4 silver medals in the bocce doubles category.

All of them will be participating once more in this year’s Palaro.

Confidence boost

“Our special children gain confidence in their capabilities every time they join the Palaro,” DepEd Special Services Committee chair Marivic Tolitol said.

Approximately 280 athletes from 10 regions will be participating in this year’s special games. Regions 1, 10 and 4A, last year’s champion, first runner-up and second runner-up, respectively, will be participating again this year.

The other participants are regions 3, 4B, 6, 9, 11, CARAGA and the National Capital Region.

Last year’s special games were participated in by only 6 regions. DepEd’s target this year was to bring at least 50 participants per region, yielding a total of 800 athletes for all 17 regions.

Although it was not met, the special games for the differently abled will perhaps produce not only possible world-class athletes, but inspiration for all who will be watching as well. – Rappler.com

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