Needing younger blood, PPC search for new breed of para athletes on
The Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) will look high and low across the country to discover hidden gems worthy of national para team inclusion in the future.
“We need to go back to basics. As a matter of fact, we need to strengthen our grassroots development program,’’ said PPC president Michael Barredo prior to the closing ceremony on Sunday of the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics, where three gallant men represented the country well.
Half of the six-athlete delegation of Team Philippines in these Games featuring the finest physically challenged athletes in the world tested positive for COVID-19, ruling them out of their events for good and diminishing the country’s medal hopes.
Only wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan and swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino were able to see action, while powerlifter Achele Guion and taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin had to stay at home after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to departure for Japan.
Discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda was already in the Japanese capital when she tested positive, throwing a monkey wrench to the medal aspirations of these para athletes.
Barredo has spelled out a to-do list for the national team in preparation for the qualifiers of the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games as well as the approaching 2022 Asean Para Games in Vietnam and 2022 Asian Para Games in China.
“We need to identify more talent and look at younger athletes. We have an aging group of para athletes. We have to go across the country and find them,’’ said Barredo, who is highly motivated to building a stronger team after closing out their campaign without a medal.
The PPC chief will have to work together with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the government agency that fully funds the training and participation of their athletes, for its talent-discovery project with PSC Commissioner Arnold Agustin ready to help them out.
“We need to orient and introduce to more people what para sports is all about,’’ said Barredo, who also recognizes the importance of more women in para sports both as athletes and members of the organization. INQ