THE SPORTING WORLD may be at a standstill right now as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic takes hold but work continues for para swimmer Ernie Gawilan, determined to make good use of the lull people are forced to have under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Mr. Gawilan, a bemedalled paralympic swimmer and who is also an ambassador of Toyota Motor Philippines, said the current setup under ECQ is tough for athletes like him.

He, however, is not allowing it to weigh on him by staying active and maintaining his focus so that when the time comes that they will be allowed to return to normal training and compete he would not lose much step.

“Despite the situation, I’m not losing hope and the training continues for me so I will be ready for future competitions. We just have to continue fighting. Fight COVID-19!” said Mr. Gawilan.

One of the competitions the swimmer is preparing for is the Paralympic Games in Tokyo where he already secured a spot after an impressive showing in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia.

Winning gold medals in the men’s 400-meter freestyle (S7 class), men’s 100m backstroke (S7) and 200m individual medley events (SM7) in the ASEAN meet for the differently abled, Mr. Gawilan earned valuable points for qualification for the Paralympics.

He also won silver medals in the men’s 50m freestyle (S7) and men’s 100m backstroke freestyle (S7).

Unfortunately the Tokyo Games has been pushed for next year because of the COVID-19 but he remains committed to doing well as he makes his second straight Paralympics appearance.

“Since right now I cannot for the pool, I’m doing land training. I just do what is possible to do,” said Davao native Gawilan, who was born with no legs and an underdeveloped left limb, as he talked about the kind of training he is having at the moment.

As he deals with the ECQ, Toyota is relying behind Mr. Gawilan, fully supporting his quest to excel in his craft and continue to inspire, something the group said they are relating to.

“Through our local Toyota Ambassador Mr. Ernie Gawilan, we hope to inspire everyone even though we are facing challenging times,” said Cristina Arevalo, TMP’s First Vice President for Brand & Product Planning. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo