TOKYO – Not wanting to disappoint his coach who was forced to stay home due to COVID 19, Jerrold Mangliwan scrambled to the finals of the T52 men’s 400-meter race on Friday in placing seventh in the heats of the Tokyo Paralympic Games track fest at the Japan National Stadium here.
Wheelchair racer Mangliwan overcame a sluggish start to hit his stride at the halfway mark and wound up in fourth place in the first heat, clocking one minute and 3.41 seconds, topped by American defending champion Martin Raymond in 57.70 seconds.
The time was enough for the pride of Tabuk, Kalinga to book his spot in the finals at 8:16 p.m. (7:16 p.m. in Manila) after finishing among the top eight qualifiers in two heats in a field of 11 entries of the outing bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Mangliwan will be racing in lane No. 3 beside Martin, of Filipino-Irish descent and a triple gold medalist in the 2016 Rio Paralympics, in lane No. 4, bidding to give the country its first medal in the third day of action of the sports fest featuring the world’s finest para athletes.
The 2015 Singapore ASEAN Para Games double gold medalist had earlier dedicated his race to coach Joel Deriada, who was grounded in the Philippines after testing positive for the virus before the national team left for the Japanese capital.
“Yung slow start ang talagang weakness ni Jerrold na dini-develop natin. Naiwan siya sa start pero nakabawi sa bandang gitna,” said Deriada from Manila after witnessing the race live via video streaming.
He continued to have faith in the athlete, who boasts a personal best time of 1:02.17 set last May at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Nottwil, Switzerland.
“Actually, Mangliwan’s fastest time is 1:00.97 when he got the silver medal in the event in the Singapore ASEAN Para Games. But it was not recognized because the meet was not sanctioned by the International Paralympic Committee,” Deriada recalled.
“Pero may chance talaga si Jerrold mag-medal. Sa diskarte na niya talaga yan. Pare-pareho na sila lahat diyan sa finals,” he noted.
Earlier, swimmer Ernie Gawilan missed the finals of the SM7 men’s 200-meter individual medley in placing ninth overall in the heats with a personal best time of 2:50.49 at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre. The top eight swimmers advance to the finals in the afternoon.
Swimming coach Tony Ong noted that Gawilan’s clocking was faster than the 2:52 he set in winning the gold medal in the same event during the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Ernie will be a reserve in the finals later this afternoon in the event a swimmer backs out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo, together with IPC president Andrew Parsons, awarded last Thursday the medals in the men’s -49-kilogram division of powerlifting at the Tokyo International Forum.
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