PHILIPPINE para athletes begin their 2018 Asian Para Games campaign later this week with the hopes of improving on their last showing at the quadrennial sporting event after being shored up by more support from stakeholders.
Happening in Jakarta, Indonesia, from Oct. 6 to 13, the third Asian Para Games will see 57 para athletes from the Philippines competing in 10 disciplines with the end goal of topping their five-silver and five-bronze medal haul in Incheon, South Korea, in the 2014 edition of the Games.
The Filipinos, who will be part of the more than 3,500 athletes from different parts of Asia descending on the Indonesian capital, will compete in archery, athletics, badminton, chess, cycling, judo, powerlifting, table tennis, swimming and tenpin bowling in the week-long competition.
Leading the Philippine contingent are bemedalled para athletes Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta of powerlifting and Josephine Medina of table tennis.
Ms. Ancheta holds the record for being the first Filipino to win a medal in the Paralympics after bagging a bronze medal in Sydney, Australia, in 2000 while Ms. Medina won a bronze medal in 2016 at the Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Joining them in donning the national colors are Agustina Bantiloc and Giovanni Ola (archery); Prudencia Panaligan, Andy Avellana, Jerrold Pete Mangliwan, Joel Balatucan, Evaristo Carbonel, Jeanette Acebeda, Marites Burce, Arman Dino, and Cendy Asusano (athletics); Jonas Matados, Paz Lita, and Kathleen Pedrosa (badminton); Sander Severino, Henry Roger Lopez, Jasper Rom, Minandro Redor, Israel Peligro, Arman Subaste, Francis Ching, Rodolfo Sarmiento, Cecilio Bilog, Fe Mangayayam, Jean-lee Nacita, and Cheryl Angot (chess); Arthus Bucay and Godfrey Taberna (cycling); Gener Padilla, Deterson Omas, and Carlito Agustin (judo); and Achelle Guion, Agustin Kitan, Marydol Pamatian, and Romeo Tayawa (powerlifting).
Also part of the team are Minnie Cadag, Benedicto Gaela, Pablo Catalan, Darwin Salvacion, and Smith Billy Cartera (table tennis); Ernie Gawilan, Gary Bejino, Roland Subido, Arnel Aba, and Edwin Villanueva (swimming); and Kim Ian Chi, Samuel Matias, Angelito Guloya, Christopher Yue, Francisco Ednaco, Jaime Manginga, Augusto Hernandez, Crisostomo Yao, Noel Espanol and, Ruben San Diego (tenpin bowling).
Believing that the country will be represented by a “richer delegation” in the Jakarta Asian Para Games, Philippine chef de mission Francis Carlos Diaz said the country’s campaign could be a breakthrough one, where the Philippines’ first gold medal could be notched.
“Coming from the Incheon Asian Para Games in 2014 we have a richer delegation this time around in terms of experience and skill, after all it’s four years of athletic competition. Our training has been all year long like the ordinary athletes,” Mr. Diaz told reporters at the send-off for the team on Sept. 28 hosted by the Philippine Paralympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission at Kamayan EDSA.
“We improved a lot in terms of support. I wouldn’t say the numbers but by far the grant that the Philippine Sports Commission gave to this bunch of athletes is really astronomical in terms of figures. The fund was for their training and equipment, training supply and uniforms. All of these were given by the government. In terms of private support, we have had some support from small companies which have somehow contributed for our athletes’ campaign. They are not yet major sponsors but they have been a big help,” he added.
With more support coming in for the country’s para athletes and the paralympic movement, Mr. Diaz said there is more pressure to deliver but they are not letting it hamper their performance.
“Definitely there is pressure to deliver after all the support given. But in the numerous meetings we had with the coaches and athletes, everybody is aware that really the objective is to produce a better outcome than the Incheon Asian Para Games where we had five silvers and five bronzes. And hopefully we get our first gold medal,” he said.
Ms. Ancheta also shared the same view while also vowing to do her best in her event.
“Surely there is more pressure. When not much attention was given to us we were pressuring ourselves to do better to get the support, and now that we have support all the more we need to show that we deserve to get the support they have been giving us,” she said.
Adding, “It’s hard to make a prediction. As my coach would like to say ‘Anything can happen.’ But we are hoping for the best. We have trained hard and it’s all now about performing.”
As mandated by law, para athletes who bring home a medal are due for cash incentives like regular athletes.
In the 2014 Asian Para Games, China was the overall winner with 174 gold, 95 silver, and 48 bronze medals, followed by host South Korea (72-62-77) and Japan (38-49-56).
The Philippines placed 24th out of 32 participating countries. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo