The Philippines Paralympic team are pumped up. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal at the ongoing Olympic Games have boosted the confidence of the Paralympic side who would also be aiming for an improved show at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, next month.
Diaz became Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medallist winning the women’s 55kg category with a record lift of 224kg.
“The success of Hidilyn Diaz has truly inspired our lean but very competitive delegation that we have for the Paralympic Games. Each and every one of the six athletes right now are in their respective bubble training venues and have committed to do everything humanly possible to win and bring honour and pride to our country,” said Prof Francis Carlos B. Diaz, Chef de Mission, Philippines.
The Philippines made their Paralympic Games debut at the 1988 Seoul Games, with three athletes competing in athletics and swimming. However, the first Paralympic medal win came at the Sydney 2000 Games, when Adeline Dumapong took the bronze medal in Para powerlifting women’s up to 82.5kg event.
At Tokyo, the Philippines is set to field six Para athletes in four sports – Para athletics (2), Para powerlifting (1), Para swimming (2) and Para taekwondo (1), led by Para swimmer Ernie Gawilan.
“The players have had a lot of challenges and difficulties due to the pandemic. Just the way we had overcome the challenges and trained hard, we will try to give our best in Tokyo. Our Para athletes are very upbeat for the upcoming Games,” added Diaz.
UPBEAT FOR THREE MEDALS
The country is hoping to win at least three medals with their hopes resting on Gawilan, bronze medallist at IDM World Series Berlin in June 2021; taekwondo fighter Allain Ganapin, Asian qualifier bronze medallist in Amman, Jordan; and Jerold Mangliwan, silver medallist in 400m T52 at Nottwil 2021 Grand Prix in May 2021.
“Even though I have limitations, and with this pandemic affecting our training and performances, I will still do everything which can to bring glory and honour to my country. I always dreamt of making it to the Paralympics. And I want to make it a memorable one,” said Gawilan, first gold medallist for the Philippines at the Asian Para Games in Indonesia 2018.
Gawilan will compete in men’s 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle S7/SB7/SM7 events. In the swimming contingent, he will be joined by Gary Bejino in S6/SB6/SM6 100m backstroke, 200m IM, 400m freestyle and 50m butterfly events.
“I’m very happy and proud to get this opportunity to represent the Philippines at Tokyo 2020. I will give my best,” said Bejino.
The other two athletes in the team are Jeanette Aceveda (F11 women’s discus throw) and Achelle Guion (Para powerlifting women’s -45kg).
HIGH ON MORALE
Meanwhile, Mangliwan hoped that he could go out with confidence at the Olympic track in Tokyo.
“It’s a little bit challenging this time because we need to adjust with the current situation. It had been a difficult last year with hardly any training on the track. I hope with the help and supervision of my coaches, we can perform with confidence and up to our expectations, and get a desirable result like we had in Switzerland.
“I will not make any excuses not to perform well in the Games, regardless the difficult times,” Mangliwan who will compete in men’s 100m, 400m and 1500m T52 events.
Ganapin, who will compete in K44 men’s -75 kg event, said the team has been doing its best to put up a good performance at Tokyo 2020.
“I am expecting a good result after all the support coming in from the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF).”