The Philippines’ bid to bring home Olympic medals isn’t over yet.
With the conclusion of the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday comes the imminent commencement of the 16th edition of the Summer Paralympic Games. Set to run from August 24 up to September 5, the upcoming multi-sport affair for differently-abled athletes will return to the site of the first-ever Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Six athletes are set to represent the Philippines in four sporting events of the Paralympic Games. The Philippine delegation will be headed by chef de mission Prof. Francis Carlos Diaz, who also serves as the dean of the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Human Kinetics.
Here are the athletes who will attempt to win medals for the Philippines in the 16th Summer Paralympic Games:
The country will be sending two athletes for the swimming competition. Ernie Gawilan officially clinched the first spot in the Games allocated by the World Para Swimming after meeting the minimum qualifying time for the 400-meter freestyle S6 event. He’s set to compete in the 200-meter individual medley, 100-meter backstroke, and 400-meter freestyle.
A Davao native, Gawilan won three bronze medals in the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, the most among that year’s Philippine delegation. In the 2018 edition of the same event held in Jakarta, Gawilan took home gold in the men’s 200-meter individual medley, marking the first time the country has won the top prize in the history of the Asian Para Games. He also qualified for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro after winning gold and silver in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games in Singapore.
Another athlete for swimming, Gary Bejino earned his ticket to the Games after bagging a silver and two bronze in the 2018 Asian Para Games and getting a bipartite place from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Bejino joins Gawilan in the 400-meter freestyle and 200-meter individual medley, and will also enter the 100-meter breaststroke and 50-meter butterfly events.
Aside from his taking home a trio of medals in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, the one-armed, one-legged tanker was also a 2017 Kuala Lumpur ASEAN gold medalist.
Wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan will mark his second Paralympic Games berth after his stint in Rio in 2016. He qualified for the 400-meter T52 wheelchair race after clocking 1:02:17 in the men’s 400-meter T52 class in the Para Athletics 2021 Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland, making the Paralympics standard of 1:03:27.
Taking up the sport of wheelchair racing in 2009, Mangliwan has gone on to win medals in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, including two gold medals for the 100-meter and 200-meter T52 race, and a silver in the 400-meter T52 race.
Discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda added her name to the roster of Philippine delegates when she secured her bipartite slot for the Games. She will be competing in the women’s F11/12 discus throw.
Like swimmer Bejino, Aceveda is set to make her Paralympics debut. She’s anything but a beginner, though, as she is considered a veteran para-athlete, having won two gold medals for discus throw and shot put as well as a bronze for javelin throw in the 7th ASEAN Para Games held in Myanmar in 2014.
One of the early entrants to the country’s list of Paralympic athletes, Allain Ganapin is set to make history as the upcoming Paralympic Games formally includes taekwondo in the list of competitive sports for the first time.
A taekwondo jin who underwent a surgical amputation at birth, Ganapin is set to enter the men’s K44-75-kg. division. He qualified for the Games after clinching a bronze medal in the Asian Taekwondo Paralympic qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan last May.
The latest athlete to secure her slot in the Games, weightlifter and Paralympic veteran Achelle Guion was likewise granted bipartite approval from the IPC. She’s set to see action in the women’s 41-kg. event.
Guion’s participation is a worthy prospect for the country too. Already in her 40s, Guion still managed to collect a couple of silver medals in the 2014 and 2018 Asian Para Games for the 45-kg. event. With the addition of Guion’s accolades to this year’s delegation, the country surpassed the five-athlete squad that it flew to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
As the sporting event, one more decorated para-athlete, table tennis player Josephine Medina, still awaits confirmation from the IPC to qualify for the competition. Another seasoned Paralympian, Medina has competed in the 2012 and 2016 editions of the event, winning a bronze medal in table tennis during the latter.