WHEELCHAIR racer Jerrold Pete Mangliwan came charging down the last 30 meters and slipped past erstwhile leader Ueyonabaru Hirota of Japan to complete a thrilling come-from-behind gold medal victory in the men’s 400-meter T52 finals of the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China, on Friday.
After making his move at the halfway mark, Mangliwan, racing in Lane 6, ran second entering the homestretch and was neck-and-neck with Hirota before nosing out the Japanese in a personal best time of one minute and 1.54 seconds.
The Japanese clocked 1:01.79 for the silver.
In a race witnessed by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard Bachmann and commissioner Walter Torres and Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo , the Tokyo Paralympian delivered the country’s fourth gold medal and its first in athletics in the games.
The Tabuk (Kalinga) native also became the country’s third double medalist in HAngzhou after swimmer Ernie Gawilan and chess player Menandro Redor.
Mangliwan’s success also enabled the country to remain at No. 12 in the medal standings among 44 countries seeing action on the penultimate day of the competition.
“Coach Joel [Deriada] told me to just come out strong and trust my endurance,” said Mangliwan of the winning strategy that also gave him a silver medal in the men’s 100-meter T52 race three days ago.
“I thank the Lord for this, I couldn’t ask for more,” said Mangliwan, who’s in his fourth Asian Para Games. “This gold’s not for me alone, but for the entire Team Philippines.”
He said that he was undaunted by the formidable Hirota, a bronze medalist in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, and another Japanese Ito Tatsuya, who won the men’s 100-meter T52 gold last Tuesday. Tatsuya settled for the bronze in 1:04.96.
Gawilan expressed hope Mangliwan’s victory would put para athletes on a par with their able-bodied counterparts.
“This will be the start that para athletes will be just equally recognized as their able-bodied counterparts,” he said.
Arman Dino clocked 55.45 seconds and finished seventh overall in the heats to advance to the final of the men’s 400-meter T47 finals Saturday.
After a fruitful outing in the standard event, Filipino para chess players resumed their medal hunt and were in the thick of the fight for gold in three categories of the rapid event—both men and women Physically Impaired and B2-B3 men’s divisions.
Veteran Henry Roger Lopez, a silver medalist in men’s individual standard, shared top spot after four rounds with 3.5 points each with Iran’s Aski after both fought to a fighting draw in the fourth round of the men’s PI class.
Jasper Rom was in solo second spot with three points in the category after defeating Mongolia’s Sundui Sonom while Darry Bernardo, who bagged six gold in the Cambodia ASEAN Para Games, was a close second in the men’s B2-B3 class with 3.5 points after beating Gangolli Kishan.
Teammate Menandro Redor, who anchored a team and individual sweep of the standard event, was running a strong third with three points with a key win over Iranian Rashat Abadi Hamzeh Mosleh with two rounds to go.
Shrugging off a lackluster outing in the previous event, Chery Angot led the way and remained unbeaten in the women’s PI division with four points after four rounds in vanquishing Indonesia’s Nasip Firta Simanja.
Atty. Cheyzer Crystal Mendoza beat Vietnam’s Doan Thu Huyen and was tied for second with three points, with the top two players of each squad determining the outcome of the team event.
Image credits: PSC Media Pool