Another batch of heroes is out to make the Philippines proud as the National Paralympic Team travels to Tokyo for the 2020 Paralympics.
After the country’s historic campaign in the recent Summer Games that saw Hidilyn Diaz win the country’s first Olympic gold, Filipinos can now look forward to six athletes competing in the 16th Paralympiad on Aug. 24-Sept. 5. They are Janette Aceveda for Para-Athletics, Gary Bejino and Erbie Gawilan for Para-Swimming, Allan Ganapin for Para-Taekwondo, Achelle Guion for Para-Powerlifting, and Jerrold Mangliwan, also for Para-Athletics.
Mangliwan, who has been with the national team for over 15 years, will be the country’s flag bearer at the opening ceremonies.
He is also one of the 41 para-athletes who comprise Team Citi — para-athletes who have partnered with Citi as ambassadors in support of a more diverse, inclusive society and help change perceptions of persons with disabilities.
Citi’s global partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) aims to increase awareness of the Paralympic Movement, advocate change in societies’ perceptions around disability and provide support for para-athletes.
Citi Philippines held a virtual send-off for the Filipino athletes on August 19 as a show of support and to give them a chance to meet the media before leaving.
“I wish all of you the very best at this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo,” expressed Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed.
“Over the years, some of us have had the opportunity and great pleasure to meet with many of you, and we have all been extremely impressed, inspired, and encouraged by your tremendous determination and resilience. We couldn’t be prouder to support such an amazing team of athletes and will be cheering for you in your quest for a medal,” he added.
“Our para-athletes have been preparing for this moment for many years and have overcome the adversity of the games being postponed as well as the challenges of training during the lockdown,” said Philippine Paralympic Committee President Mike Barredo.
“We are proud of what they accomplished, and we are confident that their performance in the upcoming Paralympic Games will inspire us all. We would also like to express our gratitude to the Philippine Sports Commission and sponsors like Citi who have supported us on this challenging road to Tokyo,” continued the long-time sports figure.
Barredo is among the officials accompanying the athletes to Tokyo which include Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Arnold Agustin, UP College of Human Kinetics Dean and Team Pilipinas’ Chef de Mission Kiko Diaz, and PPC Secretary General Walter Francis Torres. The entire delegation also has five coaches, two medical staff, and two administrative staff.
Mangliwan, a two-time Paralympian, pledged that the Filipino athletes will do their best in Tokyo. He and his fellow Paralympians received good news last week after the PSC gave them an additional P 100,00 each in allowances.
“We would like to thank the national government, our family, and friends for their loyalty and support. We have overcome many challenges and adversities as athletes and Filipinos and we will fight for a medal finish,” he said.
“We hope to do you all proud at the Paralympic Games,” added Mangliwan, a distinguished wheelchair racer.
Professor Diaz said he knows that expectations are high, but he is confident that any one of these six athletes could match or even surpass the Philippines’ medal finish at the previous Paralympic Games.
Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong, another Team Citi athlete, won the country’s first bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Games, while table tennis player Josephine Medina brought home another bronze from Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“We believe that any of these six athletes can match or surpass the bronze medal won by Josephine Medina and Adeline Dumpaong,” he said.
“All of them know they face tough competition in Tokyo and all of them are committed to doing their best to win a medal for the Philippines.”