TOKYO – Wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan and discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda are undaunted by the elite opposition they will be up against in their respective events in the World Paralympic Games here.
“Ang umaaayaw ay hindi mag-wawagi. Kaya hindi tayo umaayaw,” said Mangliwan, who was struck by polio at the age of two, spiced by some colorful language in Flipino that was unfit to print that drove home his resolve and determination to do well.
“Kung titignan natin yong record nila (ang kalaban), malakas po sila. Pero malakas din po tayo,” echoed Aceveda of the sentiments of her fellow athlete in an interview last Monday inside the Athletes Village.
The tall and stocky Aceveda, who won three golds in the 2013 ASEAN Para Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, was keenly aware of the challenges facing them in their stint fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Salang-sala na po yan sa bansang pinanggalingan nila so battle of the champions na po yan. Eh, hindi po tayo susuko,” said the 50-year-old mother of three who manages three massage therapy clinics in different malls in Marikina.
Mangliwan, who was the Philippine contingent’s standard-bearer during the opening ceremonies at the Japan National Stadium Tuesday night, will be the first to see action between them on Friday in the T52 men’s 400-meter race, with the heats scheduled in the morning and the finals in the evening.
His coach Joel Deriada believes that the 2016 Rio Para Games veteran of reaching the finals of the first of three events if he plays his cards right.
“Nakita na namin yong record ng kalaban ni coach Joel kaya nakita namin may malaking pag-asa ako makapasok sa event na to,” Mangliwan said. “Yun ang pinaka-goal ko is to make it to the finals po talaga. Kung makuha ko po yung goal ko na yon, all out na po doon.”
The wheelchair racer’s other events are the men’s 1,500-meter race on Saturday and the 100-meter sprint, beginning with the heats on Sept. 2 and the finals on a succeeding day.
“Bali gusto din po natin makapasok sa finals. At siyempre po, manalo. Ibibigay namin yong best namin,” said Aceveda, who suffered a degenerative disease at the age of three that has left her technically blind in both eyes.
Compounding the discus thrower’s situation is the fact that under the International Paralympic Committee and World Para rules, she will be performing blindfolded to block out whatever feeble light that some athletes might still perceive as means of equalizing the playing field.
Thankfully, Aceveda will have plenty of time to hone her technique together with coach Bernard Buen since the F11 women’s discus throw finals won’t be until Aug. 31 at the Japan National Stadium.
Both athletes said they were quite comfortable with their quarters and gave the thumbs-up to the food served at the two-story Athletes Village dining hall, which is open round-the-clock to serve the over 4,000 athletes and officials from 163 countries taking part in the Tokyo Para Games.
Mangwilan said he was still trying to accustom himself to the automated self-driving buses that move around the locations within the Athletes Village. The movements of the vehicles are monitored by computers and video cams by assigned personnel along with the designated bus stops.
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