PH Paralympians aim to improve during busy 2022 schedule

Beatrice Go

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TEN-GOLD HAUL. Ernie Gawilan is the most bemedalled athlete of the 2018 Asian Para Games.

Jat Tenorio/Red Ox Media Events

The Filipino Tokyo Paralympians are already setting their sights on the ASEAN Para Games and the Asian Para Games

The country’s Tokyo Paralympic team may not have won a medal in the quadrennial event, but it gained a burning desire to do better in the ASEAN Para Games and Asian Para Games, both happening in 2022. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team suffered a series of unfortunate events, including losing three of its six qualified athletes. The three tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore, were ruled out of the quadrennial meet. 

But the remaining members who participated in the Tokyo Paralympics Jerrold Mangliwan, Ernie Gawilan, and Gary Bejino are already thinking on how they can improve and sustain their momentum after competing in the highest level of sport. 

Mas maganda talaga na magkaroon kami ng ganoong sitwasyon (bubble) or ganoong training (camp) para ma-maintain pa rin namin yung ganung level ng laro. Napakalaking bagay talaga noon,” said Mangliwan, who advanced to the men’s finals of the 100m, 400m, 1500m T52 classification.

(It will be nice if we’re going to be placed in another bubble training camp in order to maintain the level we are in.) 

The 41-year-old wheelchair racer nailed a 5th place finish and supposedly set a new national record in the 400m event, but he got disqualified for crossing lanes. 

Two-time Paralympic swimmer Gawilan, 30, also made the finals of his two events in the men’s 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle S7. 

He likewise eclipsed his qualifying time in the 400m freestyle as he became the first Filipino para swimmer to reach the finals of the Paralympics.

Gawilan was the most bemedalled athlete of the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta. He is looking to help the country defend its 10-gold medal haul from the continental tournament. 

Looking forward tayo doon (Asian Para Games) dahil yung naman talaga yung susunod na paghahandaan namin,” said Gawilan, who won three golds in the Asiad. “Doon ulit tayo naka-focus ngayon.”

(We’re already looking forward to the Asian Para Games because that’s really the next thing we’ll prepare for. We’ll focus on that now.) 

Bejino, on the other hand, shared that he was already aiming for a return to the quadrennial meet after failing to qualify for the finals and surpass his personal best times. 

The 25-year-old vowed to focus on his preparations especially in his techniques and mindset. 

“‘Yung araw-araw na preparation talaga ang importante. Siguro para sa akin ang dapat ko pang i-improve yung technique and mind setting,” said  Bejino, a first time Paralympian who had the most number of events in Tokyo, namely 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley, 50m butterfly, and men’s 400m freestyle S6.

(The daily preparation was important. I guess I have to improve my technique and mind setting.) –

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.