Team Pilipinas’ para-athletes are drawing inspiration from the country’s most successful campaign in the last Tokyo Olympics to go all out and do well in the 16th Paralympic Games opening on Aug. 24 in the Japanese capital.
“Inspired kami at na-lift up sa tagumpay na naganap sa Tokyo Olympics po, mas na-motivate po kami na galingan sa darating na World Paralympics,” said Rio Para Games veteran and swimmer Ernie Gawilan Tuesday at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum virtual edition.
Taekwondo jin and World Para Games debutant Allain Ganapin echoed Gawilan’s sentiments, saying, “Tuwang-tuwa po ako sa nakuha po nating medal sa Tokyo Olympics, sa sobrang success po nila duon. Sobra kaming ganado sa ensayo at iniisijp na nanduon na po kami sa Tokyo nagpe-perform.”
National team Chef De Mission Francis Diaz said all of the six athletes are all eager and prepared to play for flag and country in the meet that was also delayed by a year due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The other campaigners are wheelchair racer Jerold Magliwan, who will be the flag-bearer during the opening ceremonies on Aug. 24, swimmer Gary Bejino, discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda, and powerlifter Achele Guion.
“Wholistically speaking, physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally, reading-ready na po sila na lalahok sa Tokyo Paralympic Games,” Diaz stressed in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
He revealed even Olympic boxing silver medalist Nesthy Petecio went out of her way to encourage the para-athletes after her silver medal performance while she was in Tokyo.
Diaz said his wards are not pressured in duplicating the performance of their able-bodied compatriots, who delivered one gold, two silvers and one bronze medal, in the last Summer Games.
“Nasasabi ko ito kasi dahil grabe na ang pinagdaanan ng mga athletes natin para lang mag-qualify. Therefore performance-wise each and everyone is ready and prepared to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” Diaz pointed out in the same session powered by Smart and Upstream Media as official webcast partner.
“Kung kailangan sila sumuka ng dugo, gagawin nila pinakamagaling na kaya nilang laruin upang magbigay ng karangalan sa ating bansa.
“Whether this effort lands them a medal or not para sa aking bilang CDM and their coaches, this is what we are hoping and praying for, so there is no pressure whatsoever,” he said.
Gawilan, who has made a splash in the Southeast Asian and Asian levels, said he was keen on reaching the finals of the men’s 400-meter freestyle where he is ranked among the top 10 in the world, while Ganapin is aiming to reach the finals of the men’s -75-kilogram class in his sport.
“Mga three heats po ang kailangan para makarating sa finals,” disclosed the swimmer, who will also be the country’s standard-bearer during closing rites of the meet on Sept. 5.
Diaz said they are hoping to duplicate if not surpass the bronze medals won by table tennis player Josephine Medina and power lifter Adeline Dumapong Ancheta in the 2016 Rio and 2000 Sydney editions of the event, respectively.
Team Pilipinas’ point man said the 21-man delegation would be quarantined at the Conrad Hotel starting Thursday and the main bulk would be leaving for the Japanese capital on Sunday.