HANGZHOU – Veteran para swimmer Ernie Gawilan plunges into action Monday as the 4th Hangzhou Asian Para Games goes full blast at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center (HOC) and surrounding venues here.
Gawilan, 32, will compete in the S7 men’s 200-meter individual medley at the modern 6,000-seat HOC Aquatic Arena at 7:29 p.m., just a stone’s throw away from the 80,000-capacity HOC Stadium where the opening ceremony will be held Sunday night.
It will be the first of three events he will aim to defend after ruling in the 2018 edition held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Kailangan kong madepensahan 'yung tatlong main event na na-ipanalo ko sa (I must defend the three events I won in the) Jakarta Asian Games -- 400-meter freestyle, 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter backstroke. Dun kami nag-concentrate (We concentrated on those),” Gawilan said in a news release.
Also seeing action in the swimming event are Cambodia Southeast Asian Para Games double gold medalist Gary Bejino in the S6 men’s 100-meter freestyle, Edwin Villanueva in the SM8 men’s 200-meter individual medley and Muhaimin Ulag in the SB9 men’s 100-meter breaststroke.
The vaunted national para chess team, which delivered five gold, two silver and six bronze medals in 2018, will start their bids in the men’s and women’s standard events at Hangzhou Qi-Yuan Chess Hall.
They are bannered by wheelchair-bound Fide Master Sander Severino, who bagged four golds in the Indonesian capital five years ago, and Darry Bernardo, the most prolific in the Cambodia meet in June with six golds.
Powerlifting gets underway at Xiaoshan Sports Center Gymnasium with Romeo Tayawa and Marydol Pamatian vying in the men’s -54-kilogram and women’s -41kg divisions, respectively.
Jesebel Tordecilla kicks off the country’s drive in track and field in F56 women’s javelin throw at Huanglong Sports Center Stadium.
“Our national para athletes have been working and training hard for the 4th Asian Para Games for the last five years. Now is the time for them to shine in this continental sports showcase once again and I encourage our countrymen to pray for and support them,” Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo said in a statement.
“Lord willing, we hope to match or surpass our achievements in the last Asian Para Games in Indonesia,” he added, referring to the 10 gold, 8 silver and 11 bronze medals produced in 2018.
Bernardo and swimmer Angel Mae Otom, both seeing action in their first Asian Games, will be the flag-bearers. (PSC-POC Media Pool/PNA)