PH para team ‘shell-shocked’ as COVID-19 spoils Paralympics stint

Delfin Dioquino

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PH para team ‘shell-shocked’ as COVID-19 spoils Paralympics stint

COVID-HIT. (From left) Jerrold Mangliwan, Jeanette Aceveda, Allain Ganapin, Achelle Guion, Gary Bejino, and Ernie Gawilan qualified for the Paralympics, although only half competed in Tokyo.

Jat Tenorio/Red Ox Media Events and Philippine Taekwondo Association

Only three of the six Filipinos who qualified for Tokyo saw action in the Paralympics as half of the Philippine delegation tested positive for the coronavirus

The coronavirus proved to be a formidable foe as it disrupted the Philippines’ stint in the Paralympics, leading to a heartbreaking campaign that ended without a medal.

Only three – wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan and para swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino – out of the six Filipinos who qualified for Tokyo saw action as half of the lineup tested positive for COVID-19.

Para power lifter Achelle Guion, para discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda, and para taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin were forced to withdraw from their events due to their positive COVID-19 results.

“Our hearts truly go out for them,” Philippine Paralympic Committee Michael Barredo said.

“We were all shell-shocked. So, it is really very hard to give an honest assessment given these difficult conditions and circumstances. This edition is for the books,” he added.

Barredo surmised that members of the national team who tested positive for the virus may have fallen victim to the more contagious Delta variant that continues to ravage the Philippines and Japan.

He, though, conceded that “we will truly never know, which is truly frustrating.”

It was not just the Filipino para athletes’ participation in Tokyo that got affected by the virus.

Barredo pushed for a permanent and regular training facility for para athletes after the PhilSports Complex in Pasig got converted into a quarantine facility.

“While we went through the exercise in participating in the Paralympic Games, we were affected by the circumstances of COVID-19 in the areas of training, preparation, and actual participation,” Barredo said.

“We were pretty much hit by it.”

Still, Barredo lauded the three Filipino para athletes who donned the national colors in Tokyo, notably Mangliwan and Gawilan.

Mangliwan reset his personal best as he finished sixth in the men’s 1500m T52, while Gawilan became the first Filipino para swimmer to reach a Paralympic finals, landing at sixth in the men’s 400m freestyle S7.

Bejino did not qualify for the finals in all of his four events.

“I believe Ernie and Jerrold did pretty well, while Gary is still a greenhorn who can strive to do better in future international competitions,” Barredo said. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.