Para athletes draw inspiration from Tokyo Olympics medalists


THE country’s six bets to the Tokyo Paralympics are drawing inspiration from Olympic gold medalist gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz when they compete in the August 24 to September 5 Games.

“We’ve been inspired and motivated to do our best in Tokyo,” Rio 2016 Para Games veteran Ernie Gawilan, a para swimmer, told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

Taekwondo jin and World Para Games debutant Allain Ganapin echoed Gawilan’s thoughts.

“We’re so happy with the success in Tokyo and now, we’re inspired more than ever to train and perform well,” Ganapin said.

Chef de Mission Francis Diaz said all six para athletes are eager and prepared to compete for flag and country in the Games that were also delayed a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The other campaigners are wheelchair racer Jerold  Magliwan, who will be the flag-bearer during the opening ceremony, and swimmer Gary Bejino, discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda and powerlifter Achele Guion.

“Our para athletes are physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally reading,” Diaz stressed in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Diaz said that Nesthy Petecio went out of her way to encourage the para athletes online after silver medal-clinching performance  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 Tokyo.

“Qualifying alone for the Para Games drew the best and the most out of our athletes. That alone is an accomplishment,” Diaz said in the session powered by Smart with Upstream Media as webcast partner.

“They will do their utmost best, I’m sure of that and whether or not their effort lands them a medal, they’re already bringing honor to the country by simply being there,” Diaz added.

Gawilan, a strong figure in the Southeast Asian and Asian levels, said he’s keen on reaching the finals of the men’s 400-meter freestyle where he is ranked inside the world’s top 10, while Ganapin also aims to reach the finals of the men’s -75 kgs class.

Diaz said they are hoping to duplicate, if not surpass, the bronze medals Josephine Medina bagged in table tennis in Rio and powerlifter Adeline Dumapong Ancheta brought home from Sydney in 2000.  

The 21-member delegation will be quarantined at the Conrad Hotel starting Thursday with the main bulk leaving for the Japanese capital on Sunday.  

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