Grateful nation | Inquirer Sports

Grateful nation

As Para Games close, the Philippines lauds efforts of three bets who made it to Tokyo and fought doggedly against the world’s best
By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:04 AM September 07, 2021

The fireworks display during the closing ceremonies of the Paralympics was a sight to behold. —REUTERS

Tokyo bid a colorful farewell to the Paralympics on Sunday after 12 days of stereotype-defying, record-shattering performances despite a year-long pandemic delay.

International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons declared the Games closed on a cool night in the Olympic Stadium, saying they had “not just been historic, they’ve been fantastic.”

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It was a Games like no other, postponed a year because of the pandemic and dogged by difficulties and low public support in the build-up.

Back home, Philippine Sports Commission Chair William Ramirez paid tribute to the six bets who qualified to represent the country, only for three of them not to realize their dreams because of COVID-19.

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“In spite of what happened, we take pride in these rare Filipino Paralympians. They inspire the country with their achievements. They are our heroes today who, despite their conditions, fought well,’’ said Ramirez in expressing the agency’s gratitude to the national team.

Wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino, powerlifter Achele Guion, discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda and taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin—went through a hellish time in qualifying that went with the burden that the health crisis had caused.

Hours from their supposed departure from Manila, Guion and Ganapin were unable to fly to Tokyo after testing positive for COVID-19, while Aceveda likewise yielded a positive result shortly before she was supposed to compete. Coaches and officials were also not spared from the virus, cutting the 21-man delegation almost into half.

It was indeed an unnecessary added weight for an already physically challenging situation, together with their coaches, officials and support staff that comprised Team Philippines headed by Philippine Paralympic Committee president Michael Barredo, for two agonizing weeks.

“They were exceptional and dedicated Paralympians caught in a pandemic and they still carried the flag with pride and honor,’’ said Ramirez. “They played against the best Paralympians in the world. To qualify and participate in the Paralympics is a great honor in itself.’’

Team Philippines went home without a medal, but its members fought with dogged determination, never mind if three of them weren’t able to see action.

And that is a victory in itself.

—With a report from AFP INQ
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TAGS: Paralympics, Sports
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