Despite their physical disabilities, these Filipino athletes have excelled in their respective sports and are now set to represent the country at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Following the history-making success of Team Philippines at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, it is now time for a new batch of Filipino athletes to shine in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympics. The Paralympic Games are held after the regular Olympics, which sees disabled athletes from around the world compete in feats of athletic prowess. Already overcoming a lot in their lives, these athletes deserve the same, if not more attention because, despite what they have been through, they still manage to excel and inspire.
The 2020 Paralympic Games will be held from August 24, 2021, to September 5, 2021, with over 170 nations participating, a record for the event. The country is sending six athletes to the games and is looking to add to the country’s current two medal haul, the biggest prize of which is the country’s first-ever gold medal at the Paralympic Games. Here are the six athletes representing Team Philippines.
Taekwondo is making its debut for the first time at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Allain Ganapin will be the first Filipino taekwondo para-athlete to play in the medal event. Allain had his right arm up to his elbow amputated at birth as part of a life-saving surgery. The 23-year old is set to participate in the men’s K44-75kg division. According to the International Olympic Committee, the K classification stands for “unilateral arm amputation (or equivalent loss of function), or loss of toes which impact the ability to lift the heel properly.” Allain also took home the bronze medal in the Asian Taekwondo Paralympic Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan.
Jeanette Aceveda got her spot at the Tokyo Paralympic Games via the Bipartite Commission Invitation. This is given to athletes who aren’t able to attend qualifying tournaments for extraordinary circumstances. She is set to participate in the field of athletics under the women’s F11/F12 discus throw. This will be Jeanette’s first time to play at the Paralympics.
Gary Bejino started swimming when he was in high school and that soon turned into a medal-winning swimming career. At the 2013 Asian Youth Para Games in Malaysia, he won a silver in the 100-meter freestyle event. At the 2018 Asian Para Games, he bagged a silver in the 200-meter individual medley, a bronze in the 100-meter backstroke, and another bronze medal in the 100-meter freestyle. The 23-year-old will be making his Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo as one of the country’s two swimmers. He will be competing in the men’s S6 200-meter individual medley, 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, and 50-meter butterfly. S6 is classified as “short stature or amputations or moderate co-ordination problems on one side of their body.”
Despite lacking both legs and having an underdeveloped left limb, Erwin Gawilan has made a name for himself as a history-making para-swimmer. At the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, he became the first Filipino to win a gold medal at the games when he won the men’s 200-meter individual medley. To date, he has 7 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and one bronze from the ASEAN Para Games. He also has 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 3 bronze from the Asian Para Games. He previously competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in the 400m freestyle S6 event. This time, he is set to compete in the 400-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, and 100-meter backstroke events.
Jerrold Mangliwan has paraplegia, which means he suffers from paralysis in the lower half of his body. He took up wheelchair racing in 2009 after it was suggested to him by a friend. He is set to make his second straight appearance at the Paralympic Games after Rio 2016 where he competed in the 400 meter T52 wheelchair race. The 41-year-old also won a gold in the T52 200M and 100m race, and silver in the T52 400m race at the 2015 ASEAN Para Games. He is set to participate in the T52 100m and 400m races.
Achelle Guion suffered from polio when she was just 1-year-old. But that hasn’t stopped her from succeeding in sports as she is set to represent the country in powerlifting. The 49-year-old is the sixth and last Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics. She will compete in the 44 kg weightlifting category, hoping to emulate the gold-medal winning success of Hidilyn Diaz. She previously represented the country at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games where she placed sixth in the same event. Achelle is currently ranked 17th overall in her weight class.
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