The Philippine Paralympic team is hoping to calendar a longer preparation and training period as it looks forward to competing in two major events in 2022.
Swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino, wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, along with swimming coach Tony Ong shared the same sentiment in an attempt not to repeat the same misfortune the team experienced in its recent campaign in the Tokyo Paralympics.
Due to strict quarantine and safety protocols owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino Paralympians didn’t have the benefit of training for a longer period of time going to the quadrennial meet.
With lessons learned, the Filipino Para Athletes hope a change in their training environment moving forward can be arranged as they gear up for the Asian Para Games and the ASEAN Para Games, respectively next year.
“Nagkataon sa atin hindi tayo nakapag-bubble (training) for 2020. Kung sa akin kinuha na natin yung potential and yung ating mga atleta na magka-qualify or nag-qualify sa Paralympics and do the training (camp) na hindi na sila aalis doon. Sanay naman sila doon,” said Ong as he joined the three Paralympians in the online edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
“But hopefully, magawan na yun ng paraan so we can start training again for the Asian Games and ASEAN Games next year,” he added in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“Ang assessment ko ay talagang mahabang training period.”
Mangliwan, who made the finals of all his events in the Tokyo Games, agreed with the Paralympics swimming coach during the same forum powered by Smart and Upstream Media as official webcast partner.
“Mas maganda talaga na magkaroon kami ng ganung sitwasyon (bubble) or ganung training (camp) para ma-maintain pa rin namin yung ganung level ng laro. Napakalaking bagay talaga nun,” said the 41-year-old wheelchair racer who advanced to the men’s finals of the 100m, 400m, 1500m T52 classification.
Despite the limited training time and the challenges they faced as some members of the team tested positive on COVID-19, the Filipinos still fought their hearts out and made the most of the opportunity in Tokyo.
Aside from Mangliwan, Gawilan, 30, also made the finals of his two events in the men’s 100m backstroke and 400m freestyle S7 competitions, respectively.
He likewise eclipsed his qualifying time in the 400-meter freestyle as he became the first Filipino para swimmer to reach the finals of the Paralympics.
“Yung araw-araw na preparation talaga ang importante. Siguro para sa akin ang dapat ko pang i-improve yung technique and mind setting,” said the 25-year-old Bejino, a first time Paralympian who had the most number of events in Tokyo, namely 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley, 50m butterfly, and men’s 400m freestyle S6.
Their performances served as a silver lining to the Paralympic team’s next journey.
“Looking forward tayo doon dahil yung naman talaga yung susunod na paghahandaan namin,” said Gawilan, who accounted three of the 10 golds the country won in the last Asian Para Games in 2018 in Jakarta.
“Dun ulit tayo naka-focus ngayon.”