The Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) will be searching across the country for hidden gems worthy of joining national para-teams in the future.
“We have to get back to basics. In fact, we have to strengthen our development program at the grassroots level, ”said PPC President Michael Barredo before the closing ceremony on Sunday of the Paralympics 2021 in Tokyo, at which three brave men represented the country well.
Half of Team Philippines’ six-person delegation at these games featuring the world’s best physically challenged athletes tested positive for COVID-19, permanently banning them from their events and lowering the country’s medal hopes.
Only wheelchair users Jerrold Mangliwan and swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino got the action, while powerlifters Achele Guion and Taekwondo-Jin Allain Ganapin had to stay at home after a positive COVID-19 test before leaving for Japan.
Discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda was already in the Japanese capital when she tested positive and threw a wrench at these para-athletes’ pursuit of medals.
Barredo has put together a to-do list for the national team in preparation for the qualifiers for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris and the upcoming Asean Para Games 2022 in Vietnam and the 2022 Asian Para Games in China.
“We need to identify more talent and look to younger athletes. We have an aging group of para-athletes. We have to go across the country and find them, ” said Barredo, who is highly motivated to build a stronger team after ending his season without a medal.
The PPC chief must work with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the government agency that fully funds the training and participation of their athletes, on their talent-finding project, with PSC Commissioner Arnold Agustin standing ready to help.
“We need to guide and educate more people about what parasports are all about,” said Barredo, who also recognizes the importance of more women in parasports, both as athletes and as members of the organization. INQ
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