SURAKARTA, Indonesia – The triumphant Philippine team that competed in the just-concluded 11th Asean Para Games can expect a grand hero's welcome on Sunday.
With the exception of the wheelchair basketball squads, majority of the Filipino contingent that took part in the regional sportsfest will touch down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 aboard a Philippine Airlines charter flight a little past noon.
The para-athletes will be given the red-carpet treatment by officials, led by Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) president Mike Barredo and Commissioner Bong Coo of the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC).
Competing in 14 disciplines, the Filipinos, most of whom competed in their first international meet after five years, will return home with their best-ever finish of 28 gold, 31 silver, and 47 bronze medals.
They exceeded the previous best of 24-24-26 in the 2009 edition in Kuala Lumpur.
The country was running fifth in the unofficial medal standings as of noon here Saturday.
The event's website showed the host on top with a 177-141-110 gold-silver-bronze haul, followed by Thailand (117-116-87), Vietnam (64-60-56), and Malaysia (36-20-14).
“We are all so proud of our Filipino para-athletes in overcoming many severe challenges so they can excel and come back to the country with their best performance yet in the 11th Asean Para Games,” Barredo said in a news release on Saturday. “Although we finished in fifth place once again, the marked improvement in our medal output showed how determined and hungry our athletes were.”
Coo said the athletes brought pride and honor to the country anew.
“We cannot thank you enough for your courage and hard work and lifting our country’s pride! For Philippine sports and for the greater glory of God!” she said in a statement.
PSC Executive Director and acting officer-in-charge Guillermo Iroy Jr. said they are in the process of arranging a courtesy call in Malacañang.
The next Asean Para Games will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in June 2023. (PR)