Filipino Dystrophy victim makes int’l chess Olympiad roster
Sander Severino, the bemedaled chess wizard, added another feather to his cap after being named to the International Physically Disabled Chess Association’s (Ipca) roster for the inaugural Fide Online Olympiad 2020, which comes off the wraps Wednesday.
The Negros native, who recently turned 35, is set to play top board in a field that will feature abled athletes and the world’s elite, including the Philippine team bannered by grandmaster Mark Paragua.
“This has been a childhood dream of mine,” he told the Inquirer on Monday in Filipino. “I’m very thrilled because it’s not easy getting into the Olympiad.”
The Online Olympiad is a new competition format in line with the international federation’s thrust for inclusion. Its over-the-board arm, which was set for Moscow, Russia, was moved to Aug. 5, 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Severino wound up on national headlines just last month after becoming a world champion in cardiac fashion. He learned of his inclusion to the Ipca team just last weekend.
“I’m happy because even though there’s a pandemic, all the hard work is still paying off,” he said. “Also, it’s only through chess that I feel normal—that I forget that I have a disability.”
Severino, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was eight years old, is set to see action in the first week of August.
He joins a squad that includes Ipca champions, international masters Andrei Gurbanov (Israel), Andrei Obodchuk (Russia) and Igor Yarmonov (Ukraine).
For now, he is simply basking in the glory of his feat as he believes this would only bring an even better exposure for athletes of his kind.
“This is not just for me,” Severino said. “This is for fellow differently abled athletes.”
“It’s only through achievements that they are getting recognition,” he said, explaining his crusade. “I am just the first. I know there are others who will follow suit.” INQ
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