PH para-athletes fail to bag medals as Tokyo Games end
CEBU CITY, Philippines— The country closed out its campaign in the World Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan without a single medal after its final two competitors Gary Bejino and Jerrold Mangliwan bowed out of their respective events on Friday.
Bejino finished seventh in the second heat of the men’s 100-meter backstroke S6 class with a time of one minute and 28.87 seconds in his fourth and final event at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
The 25-year-old Albay native placed last overall among the field of 20 entries, 14.72 seconds behind Chinese two-time Paralympic Games silver medalist Jia Hongguang, who led the top eight qualifiers in the afternoon finals with a time of 1:14.15.
“He (Bejino) was about .30 seconds away from his personal best. Nagkamali siya going for the turn at the halfway mark so had an open turn (touching the wall). But we are still happy with his time,” said swimming coach Tony Ong.
Over at the Japan National Stadium under drizzling conditions, Mangliwan had another problematic start and finished dead last among eight runners in the men’s 100-meter-T52 finals, clocking 20.08 seconds in the event handily won by American Raymond Martin in 16.99 seconds.
“I was talking to Jerrold before the start of the race and he seemed to be having problems with his rim-pusher on the racer, putting tape on it to have a firm grip. Yung 20 seconds talagang mabagal yun para sa kanya,” said athletics para coach Joel Deriada. “May naging problema talaga.”
Deriada pointed out that the athlete’s time was way off his personal best of 18.88 seconds and a season-best clocking of 18.98 seconds recorded last May in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Notwil, Switzerland.
With the lessons learned from the stint of the Pinoy standard-bearers here, Ong and Deriada said their main focus now would be on the coming international competitions, especially the Vietnam ASEAN Para Games and the Asian Para Games in China both in 2022.
The two coaches said that their wards should be given easy access to training facilities which are currently restricted while the country copes with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I recommend that the para-swimming team have full and uninterrupted access to a 50-meter pool. It is crucial to take our workouts seriously for us to prepare and represent the country in the future Games very well,” Ong stressed.
“Mahalaga po talaga yong training area ng mga atleta na permanente. Mahirap mag-train kung laging disrupted katulad ng nangyari sa amin sa pandemic,” said Deriada.
The entire Philippine delegation suffered setbacks after setbacks in the Tokyo para games.
Aside from failing to win any medal, at least three para-athletes: powerlifter Achielle Guion, discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda and taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin tested positive for COVID-19. /rcg
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