Motivated PH para athletes all have ‘good chances’ for medals in Tokyo
Swimmer Ernie Gawilan and taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin felt a sudden surge of courage when boxer Nesthy Petecio showed her shiny Olympic silver medal in a Zoom get-together with their fellow para athletes.
“Our success in the Olympics was really inspiring, we will go into the Paralympics more motivated to show our best,’’ said Gawilan during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.
The Davao City-based Gawilan, who became the first Filipino multiple gold medalist in the Asian Para Games back in 2018 Indonesia, will swim in the men’s 200-meter individual medley, 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics on Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
“We are in high spirits even in practice. I always think that I’m already in Tokyo competing,’’ said Ganapin, who will combat the globe’s finest para taekwondo jins in the men’s K44 -75kgs.
Also joining them during the Zoom meeting when Petecio shared words of wisdom a few weeks back were opening ceremony flag-bearer Jerrold Mangliwan of wheelchair racing, swimmer Gary Bejino, powerlifter Achelle Guion and discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda.
Team Philippines Chef de Mission Francis Diaz said they all have a good shot at getting onto the medal podium.
“All six para athletes have good chances in landing a medal. Unfortunately, I cannot claim or specifically say that we will win this much gold, silver and bronze,’’ said Diaz, also the dean of the University of the Philippines College of Human Kinetics.
“But as an institution, we have set and targeted to match or surpass our 2016 Rio De Janeiro performance,’’ added Diaz.
Back in the 2016 Paralympics, Josephine Medina of table tennis claimed a bronze medal, duplicating the feat of powerlifter Adeline Dumapong in the 2000 Sydney edition.
“They know fully well the level of competition coming into the Paralympics and their coaches have done their diligence to be able to prepare our athletes the best they can under the circumstances,’’ said Diaz.
“The opportunity given to them is so big that they begin to realize that this will be life-changing for them should they win a medal. They will do everything to perform at their best. If you want to put this into percentages, they will play with a 200-percent effort,’’ added Diaz.
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