Barredo to convene Para athletes
Mike Barredo
Jun Mendoza

Barredo to convene Para athletes

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — There’s still no certainty on when the twice-postponed 10th Asean Para Games will be held but Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo said yesterday he hopes the event pushes through this year for the sake of some 1,500 para athletes looking forward to participate from 11 countries in the region.

Barredo said he feels particularly sad for the Filipino para athletes who’ve been training for months to make a splash before their countrymen. “We’re expecting 270 to 300 Filipino para athletes to compete from only 106 in the last Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017,” he said. “A lot of our para athletes are first-timers. They’re excited to perform. It’s their big chance to be recognized. They’ll qualify for PSC incentives if they win medals. It’s what they’ve been working hard for. We plan to convene our para athletes with (PSC) chairman Butch (Ramirez) and explain to them the situation which is unfortunate. By the end of March, we’ll get a new reading from WHO and the Department of Health on the crisis level of the coronavirus. If things are back to normal, we can hold the Para Games in either May before the Olympics or September after the Olympics.”

Barredo took an overnight trip to Bangkok last weekend to explain why the Para Games will be postponed indefinitely in a meeting with Asean Para Sports Federation (APSF) president Major Gen. Osoth Bhavilai and secretary-general Wandee Tosuwan. The Games were originally scheduled on Jan. 18-24 then moved to March 20-28 for financial and logistical considerations. But the coronavirus alarm has prompted the PSC to recommend an indefinite postponement “in the interest of public health, safety and security … given the risks presented by this health crisis.”

Bhavilai told Barredo that once the crisis is over, the Games should be held within the year with the Philippines to notify APSF at least 60 days before the launch to allow lead time for the coordinating committee to inspect facilities. Barredo said Thailand and Malaysia are willing to take over the hosting of the Para Games but there is no move for the Philippines to give up the right.

“We’re proceeding under the assumption that we’ll host the Games this year,” said Barredo. “The procurement of equipment and preparation of facilities will continue. Once we know when to hold the Games, we’ll decide whether to use the New Clark City as the hub or somewhere else. We’re hoping to use the Athletes Village for the Games. We’ve got the budget for the Games. We’ve been working hard to get ready to host the best-ever Para Games following the success of the recent Southeast Asian Games. It would break the hearts of our para athletes if we aren’t able to host the Games.”

Barredo said the Para Games would be the perfect opportunity for Filipinos to get ready for the Paralympics in Tokyo on Aug. 25-Sept. 6. “Right now, we’ve got swimmer Ernie Gawilan and table tennis player Josephine Medina in our lineup,” said Barredo. “We might qualify at least four more para athletes in athletics and powerlifting with Adeline Dumapong. Among the Southeast Asian countries, we expect Thailand to participate with 30 to 40 para athletes. Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam will also be well represented.”

Gawilan has been designated one of the flame-bearers in the Olympic Torch Relay. At the 2018 Asian Para Games, Gawilan bagged three gold medals in 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley. He’s the only Filipino ever to strike gold in the Asian Para Games. Gawilan, 28, has also collected seven gold medals in three Asean Para Games. Medina, 49, has won seven gold medals in four Asean Para Games and claimed the bronze medal in singles class 8 at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. 

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