Fighting third place finish for Gawilan in Berlin world swim meet
Ernie Gawilan showed his readiness to seize a medal in the coming Tokyo Paralympics.
The triple-gold winner in the Asian Para Games brought his act to the Internationale Deutsche Meisterschaften Berlin 2021 World Para Swimming Series in Germany and claimed a bronze medal in the men’s 400-meter freestyle against the finest para swimmers in the world.
“I had a difficult time training before going here and I’m happy that I managed to win a medal despite the challenges,’’ said Gawilan in Filipino.
The Davao City-based swimmer with underdeveloped extremities completed the 400m freestyle finale in five minutes and 3.74 seconds to finish gold medalist Marco Ozaeta Velasco of Spain (5:00.41) and silver winner Arian Notretu of Romania (5:02.10).
Gawilan, 30, saw action in the S7 classification in Berlin, a category the International Paralympic Committee defines as para swimmers with one leg and one arm amputation on opposite sides, or a paralysis of one arm and one leg on the same side.
The 2016 Rio De Janeiro Paralympian has been competing in the S7 and S8 classifications since 2014.
“S8 swimmers are stronger than S7 athletes because they have lesser disabilities,’’ said Gawilan, who also captured seven gold medals in the Asean Para Games.
The International Paralympic Committee identified 10 different sport classes for athletes with physical impairment. The lower the number, the more severe the activity limitation.
Expected to join Gawilan in the Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 24 to Sept. 5 are 2016 Paralympics bronze medalist Josephine Medina of table tennis, taekwondo’s Allain Ganapin and wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan.
Philippine Paralympic Committee president Michael Barredo said they are expecting around 10 Filipino para athletes in the coming Paralympics. INQ
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