CITI Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to the Paralympic Movement just as it wished the country’s six-man athlete contingent, including para swimmer Ernie Gawilan (in photo), seeing action in the Tokyo Paralympics Games well as they represent the country. (Citi)

THE 16th Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo fire off on Aug. 24 with Citi one in the event in championing inclusion in sports, and society in general.

In a special virtual send-off for Filipino Paralympians on Thursday, Citi Philippines reaffirmed its commitment to the Paralympic Movement just as it wished the country’s six-man athlete contingent well as it competes in the sporting event for the differently abled happening until Sept. 5.

“I wish all of you the very best of luck at this year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo… We have all been extremely impressed, inspired and encouraged by your tremendous determination and resilience,” said Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed. “We couldn’t be prouder to support such an amazing team of athletes and will be cheering for you in your quest for a medal.”

The Philippines will be represented in this year’s edition of the Paralympics by two athletes for para athletics (Jerrold Mangliwan/wheelchair racing and Jeanette Aceveda/discus throw), two for para swimming (Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino), and one each for para taekwondo (Allain Ganapin) and powerlifting (Achelle Guion).

Citigroup has been a steady supporter of the Paralympic Movement throughout the years, seeing the importance of pushing for the transcending of barriers for people with disabilities, specifically through sports, to develop not only their physical well-being but self-respect and confidence as well.

As part of its push, the group has partnered with 41 athletes in different parts of the world, including Mr. Mangliwan, collectively known as “Team Citi,” to be its ambassador for its thrust for a more diverse, inclusive society, and help change perceptions of persons with disabilities.

Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) President Michael Barredo welcomed the continued support of Citigroup in what they want to accomplish at PPC and the entire Paralympic community.

“Our para athletes have been preparing for this moment for many years and have overcome the adversity of the games being postponed [because of the pandemic] as well as the challenges of training during the lockdown,” said Mr. Barredo.

“We are proud of what they have accomplished, and we are confident that their performance in the upcoming Paralympic Games will inspire us all. We would like the government for its support as well as sponsors like Citi who have supported us on this challenging road to Tokyo,” he added.

For Team Philippines Chef de Mission Francis Carlos B. Diaz, while competition in Tokyo will be tough, they, however, are inspired by the support they have been getting from believers like Citi.

“All of the athletes know they face tough competition in Tokyo and all of them are committed to do their best to win a medal for the Philippines,” said Mr. Diaz.

Team Philippines is set to leave for the Paralympics on Aug. 22.

In the history of the Paralympics, the Philippines has won two bronze medals courtesy of powerlifter Adeline Dumapong (Sydney 2000) and table tennis player Josephine Medina (Rio 2016). — Michael Angelo S. Murillo