A TOTAL of 144 Filipino para athletes will vie in the Asean Para Games scheduled July 30 to August 6 in Surakarta, Indonesia.
It will be the first international competition amid the pandemic for the Filipino para athletes, who were limited to online training the past two years.
“The important thing is to evaluate the performance of our athletes after having been out of competition for a long time,” para athletics coach Joel Deriada told Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. “They’re all hungry for competition and eager to bring honor to the country.”
Swimmer Ernie Gawilan, a veteran of the Tokyo Paralympics and double-gold medalist in the 2017 Asean Para Games, also graced the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Milo, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, Unilever and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Gawilan and his fellow swimmers are raring to compete after undergoing bubble training with the rest of Team Philippines at the PhilSports in Pasig City since June 6. Face-to-face training began last January.
“We trained well and we’re all eager to compete,” said Gawilan, adding that everything they need was provided by the PSC. “The bubble allowed us to be focused. We eat, sleep and train, everything is provided.”
The athletes leave on July 26 on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight and will return home on August 7. Joining the delegation are 68 officials—including coaches, trainers and medical staff.
The Filipino athletes will compete in archery, athletics, badminton, boccia (precision ball), chess, goal ball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis and wheelchair basketball.
There are 24 members of the athletics team, including 11 newcomers. They are hoping to surpass the medal haul of nine gold, five silver and six bronze medals during the 2017 edition in Malaysia.
Overall, the Philippines had a medal haul of 20-20-29 for fifth place overall during the last staging of the Asean Para Games where Indonesia reigned supreme with 126-75-83 followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.