TOKYO – A confluence of events beyond the control of anyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic largely led to the lackluster Philippine campaign at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, according to Mike Barredo, President of the Philippine Paralympic Committee.
“While we were doing the Paralympic Games participation exercise, we were affected by the COVID-19 circumstances in terms of training, preparation, and actual participation. We were pretty affected by it, ”said Barredo on Saturday on the eve of the end of the four-year meeting.
The last national team to take part in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, won a bronze medal awarded to the late table tennis player Josephine Medina, who died last Thursday in her residence Marikina.
He pointed out that London 2012 powerlifter and Paralympics veteran Achelle Guion and her trainer Tony Taguibao and national team boss Kiko Diaz tested positive for the virus days before leaving for Tokyo.
Then, discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda and para-athletics trainer Bernard Buen, who were fully vaccinated, both had the failure of tests here and had to be quarantined, which took away Aceveda’s chance to be the first visually impaired Filipino athlete to compete in the Games.
The final blow was when taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin also tested positive, forcing the athlete and his trainer Dindo Simpao to stay in Manila, he said about this campaign, which was fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Three of our originally six Paralympians could not compete. Our hearts really beat for them, ”said Barredo.
“We were all shocked (by these developments). So it is really very difficult to give an honest assessment under these difficult conditions and circumstances. This edition is for the books, ”added the PPC boss.
“We don’t know what would have happened if Jinky (Guion’s nickname), Jeanette and Allain could compete here. Our heart really beats for them. “
The PPC chief speculated that some members of the PH contingent may have been victims of the highly transmissible Delta variant that caused the alarming rise in infections in the home country and in the Japanese capital, “but we really will never know, which is really frustrating ”.
He paid tribute to swimmers Ernie Gawilan, Gary Bejino and wheelchair user Jerrold Mangliwan, “for doing their best under these difficult circumstances. I think Ernie and Jerrold did pretty well while Gary is still a greenhorn who can strive to do better in future international competitions. “
The two veterans of the Rio Paralympics, Gawilan and Mangliwan, gave the Philippines their best moment here last Sunday when they set personal bests and in the finals of the men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 race and the 1,500-meter T52 race of men took sixth place.
Shared the sentiments of sports coach Joel Deriada and swimming mentor Tony Ong, Barredo said it might be time for the government and private sector to establish a permanent and regular facility for the country’s national para-athletes.
“We already had a glimpse of it at the ULTRA (now renamed Philsports Complex) in Pasig City, but it was unfortunate that the government turned it into a quarantine facility, so we lost practically a year of training in 2020.” he.
He said that a few years ago he visited Beijing, China, and showed Chinese sports officials to the facility, which is only used by his national para-athletes.
“That is why the Chinese have dominated the Paralympics since the 2004 edition in Athens.” In the overall standings from Saturday noon, China was far ahead of second-placed Great Britain (40-36-17) and third-placed with 87 gold, 53 silver and 48 bronze medals USA (35-35-27). .