HANGZHOU – A casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic was one-armed taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin, whose bid to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 was derailed after he was struck down by the virus just a few days before he was to go and see action in the Japanese capital.
That painful what-might-have-been experience was etched in the memory of the Marikina native, who vowed to work hard and rekindle his Olympic dream, no matter the cost and sacrifice required.
The grinding journey to the Paris Paralympic Games began in May 2022 when he ruled the men’s -70-kilogram division of the Asian Para Games Qualification Tournament held in Sharjah, the United Arab Emirates, punching a ticket to the 4th Hangzhou Asian Para Games.
“Hindi biro po yung pinagdaanan po namin, especially dahil nung nangyari sa Tokyo na na-miss po namin. Kaya naging emosyonal po ako ng manalo sa qualifying sa Asian Para Games (What we went through is no joke, especially when I failed to compete in Tokyo Olympics. That's why I was emotional to win the qualifying at the Asian Para Games),” Ganapin said in an interview with personal coach Gershon Bautista by his side.
Bautista said the athlete has not only been undergoing rigorous training the last three months at the Philippine Taekwondo Association Central Gym inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, but also intense physical conditioning for this meet.
“He (Ganapin) is better off now compared to three months ago. Kapag sparring, nahihirapan na rin ang mga kalaban ni Allain (He’s giving opponent hard time in sparing session),” Bautista said of his tuneup matches with some of the able-bodied national team members, among them celebrated veteran and Southeast Asian Games champ Samuel Morrison.
“We believe he (Ganapin) has achieved a good fitness level for him to perform well in this Asian Para Games,” he said.
He added Ganapin's strength and stamina levels were at par before being stricken by the virus, if not better.
“Hopefully yung naipundar namin ni Allain (Allain built) in his strength and conditioning for this event will be more than enough,” Bautista said in the maiden outing of his ward in the sportsfest backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Proof that Ganapin was back in competitive shape was last July when he bagged a bronze in the Australian Open, an Olympic ranking qualifying competition.
The country has never had a taekwondo jin competing in the Paralympic Games, and should everything go according to plan, Ganapin is keen on being the one by going all-out for golden glory at the 4th Hangzhou Asian Para Games here. (PSC media pool)