PH para Games flag-bearer goes to Tokyo with confidence
Jerrold Pete Mangliwan turned in two scintillating performances during a global meet in Switzerland last summer—his first race in over two years—which boosted his confidence heading into the Paralympic Games in Japan next week.
The 2016 Rio Games veteran was also good enough there that he has gotten the honor of being the country’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies on Tuesday.
The 41-year-old para racer is looking to use every bit of that moment when he plunges into action as he beat some of the world’s best there and will be clashing with them again in Tokyo.
“It’s a huge deal that I was able to compete in May, because firstly, there were no races in 2020,” the wheelchair racer told SportsIQ in Filipino Friday afternoon. “At the same time, the athletes I went up against there are likely the ones whom I’ll compete against in Tokyo.”
Mangliwan finished second in both the 400-meter and the 1500-m T52 races of the 2021 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland. But aside from giving him a glimpse of the competition field, the 16-year national team veteran was able to tick a lot of boxes on his checklist going into the Tokyo meet.
“I was able to shake off rust. Also, I was able to rid myself of doubts that maybe we haven’t had enough training,” said Mangliwan, whose last competition was during the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia.
“[And] if I am not mistaken, I also beat a 2012 Paralympics medalist. So it really gives me confidence,” he added.
The Kalinga-born wheelchair racer will be joined by Gary Bejino (swimming), Allain Ganapin (taekwondo), Jeanette Aceveda (shot-put) and fellow Paralympics veterans in Ernie Gawilan (swimming) and Achelle Guion (powerlifting) in the Games that will run until Sept. 5.
“And we’re really inspired by our abled [counterparts],” said Mangliwan, referring to the country’s four-medal haul in the last Summer Games where Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting won the country’s first Olympic gold in 97 years.
“They put together a good start. Our morale is really high,” he added.
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