Team Pilipinas’ historic showing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics only pushes Jerrold Mangliwan and his fellow para-athletes to perform to the best of their abilities in the 16th Summer Paralympics on August 24 to September 5.
“Nadagdagan ‘yung morale din namin na maganda ‘yung umpisa nila,” said the veteran wheelchair racer in a virtual sendoff hosted by Citi.
The country had its best showing thus far in the Olympiad by winning four medals, led by Hidilyn Diaz’s golden success in the women’s weightlifting 55-kilogram category that saw her become the first Filipino Olympic champion.
Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, meanwhile, bagged home a silver each, as Eumir Marcial finished with a bronze.
To emulate such a momentous achievement undeniably brings lots of pressure. Mangliwan, though, said that there isn’t any on their part.
For him, the mere fact that he and his fellow para-athletes have made it to the 16th Paralympiad is an achievement per se already.
“Personally, hindi naman pressure,” said the 41-year-old, who will be the country’s flagbearer in the Games’ opening rites.
“Sinasabi naman nila palagi sa amin na pagkarating pa lang doon is, we’re already champions.”
Mangliwan is set to compete in his second straight Paralympics, having played in the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro. He qualified after meeting the minimum qualifying standard and the minimum entry slot of the IPC.
“Very blessed po ako,” said the two-time ASEAN Para Games gold winner, who started his racing career thanks to the encouragement of a friend. “Blessed lang po na nagkaroon ng support, ‘yung talagang tulong-tulong.”
Mangliwan, who has paraplegia after being diagnosed with polio at a very tender age of two, is set to see action in the men’s T52 400, 100, and 1,500-meter races. The 400-meter is his first event on August 27.
He may have expressed that making it to Tokyo is a feat in itself, but that does not mean the Bulacan-native isn’t going after a medal.
“Rest assured naman po na we will give our best,” said Mangliwan, who made the 400-meter T52 final in Rio and wounded up seventh.
“Sabi nga po ng isang boksingero natin na si Nesthy Petecio, patay na kung patay, bigay po ‘yan,” he furthered.
“So ‘yun po ‘yung pinaka ano ko, kumbaga battlecry, na talagang bibigay ko talaga.”