Para athletes hope to deliver historic performance in Tokyo

Joey Villar - Philstar.com
Para athletes hope to deliver historic performance in Tokyo
A government official carries a bag with the logo of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games during a meeting between Tokyo’s governor Yuriko Koike and president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee Seiko Hashimoto at the Tokyo metropolitan government building in Tokyo on February 19, 2021.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Para team will try to accomplish in the Tokyo Paralympics what their able-bodied counterparts achieved in the Tokyo Olympics — deliver a historic performance.

“Winning a bronze, if not improve on it, is our main goal,” said Philippine Tokyo Paralympics chef-de-mission Francis Diaz on Thursday’s online presser co-hosted by Citi Philippines and the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC).

“All six of our athletes have equal opportunity of winning those medals,” he added.

Diaz was referring to swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino, wheelchair racer Jerold Mangliwan, taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin, shot-putter Jeanette Aceveda and powerlifter Achell Guion, who will represent the country in the event set August 24 to September 5.

Gawilan said winning a medal wouldn’t be easy but they would do their best to achieve it.

“Hindi kami pupunta sa Tokyo Paralympics para magbato, bato, pick,” said Gawilan referring to a children’s game rock paper scissors.

The country’s best finish in the quadrennial event was a bronze, which was accomplished twice by powerlifter Adeline Dumapong in the 2000 Sydney Games and table tennis ace Josephine Medina in the 2016 Rio edition.

And any medal more than a bronze would be a breakthrough for the country, which already ended a century-long wait for an elusive Olympic gold in Tokyo thanks to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

It is also in Tokyo where the country captured a pair of silver courtesy of boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam and a bronze from pug Eumir Marcial.

“These are people who have gone beyond and overcame so many challenges and should be an inspiration to us all,” said Citi chief executive officer (CEO) Aftab Ahmed. “They basically provide a voice for people with disabilities and they are showing us that anything is possible if you put your heart into it.”

PPC president Mike Barredo said private backers like Citi Philippines would be a shot in the arm for Philippine Para sports.

“I hope in the future many more private groups would support us so that we can sustain what we’ve started,” said Barredo.



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