TOKYO paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan — JAT TENORIO/PSC

THE Philippines will go all out to improve on a fifth-place finish in the last staging of the ASEAN Para Games in 2017 as it sees action in the 11th edition of the biennial meet slated for July 30 to Aug. 6 in Solo, Indonesia.

Tokyo paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan is optimistic he can improve on a two-gold, one-silver and two-bronze haul he snared and the team’s total 3-3-5 the last time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“We’re really eager, hungry and excited to compete again in the ASEAN Para Games and we have high hopes we will do better than the last time,” said Mr. Gawilan, who is scheduled to see action in the 400-meter freestyle, 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke and two team relay events.

Joel Deriada, who coaches the track and field squad, likewise showed confidence his team will match, if not improve, their 9-5-6 haul in the last edition.

“After some postponements and cancellation, we’re happy to compete in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Para Games, we’re all excited and eager to compete and make the country proud again,” said Mr. Deriada, who is fielding in a 24-strong squad headed by paralympians Jerold Pete Mangliwan and 2017 triple gold medalist Cendy Asusena.

The squad will also have 2017 double gold winner Daisy Panaligan in the squad that will parade 11 promising new talents they recruited in the Palarong Pambansa a few years ago.

In all, the country will have 212-strong delegation composed of 144 athletes, 38 coaches, seven personal assistants and 23 officials including chef de mission Wowie Torres.

The Nationals, who will also compete in archery, badminton, chess, boccia, goal ball, judo, powerlifting, volleyball, basketball and table tennis, will leave on July 26 in a Philippine Airlines chartered flight arranged by the Philippine Sports Commission. — Joey Villar