TOKYO – Swimmer Gary Bejino and wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan bowed out of their respective events with a whimper on Friday, capping the Philippine team’s campaign at the Tokyo Paralympic Games here.
Bejino finished seventh in the second heat with a time of one minute and 28.87 seconds in the men’s 100-meter backstroke-S6 race in his fourth and final event at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre to wrap up his Paralympic debut supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
The 25-year-old Albay native placed last overall among the field of 20 entries, 14.72 seconds behind Chinese two-time Paralympic Games silver medalist Jia Hongguang, who led the top eight qualifiers in the afternoon finals with a time of 1:14.15.
“He (Bejino) was about .30 seconds away from his personal best. Nagkamali siya going for the turn at the halfway mark so had an open turn (touching the wall). But we are still happy with his time,” said swimming para coach Tony Ong in the light of the challenges they faced here.
Over at Japan National Stadium under drizzling conditions, Mangliwan had another problematic start and finished dead last among eight runners in the men’s 100-meter-T52 finals, clocking 20.08 seconds in the event handily won by American Raymond Martin in 16.99 seconds.
“I was talking to Jerrold before the start of the race and he seemed to be having problems with his rim-pusher on the racer, putting tape on it to have a firm grip. Yung 20 seconds talagang mabagal yun para sa kanya,” said athletics para coach Joel Deriada. “May naging problema talaga.”
Deriada pointed out that the athlete’s time was off his personal best of 18.88 seconds and a season-best clocking of 18.98 seconds recorded last May in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Notwil, Switzerland.
With the lessons learned from the stint of the Pinoy standard-bearers here, Ong and Deriada shared their thoughts on how the athletes could prepare for succeeding international competitions, especially with the Vietnam ASEAN Para Games and Asian Para Games in China looming in 2022.
Both coaches recommended that their wards should have ready access to training facilities while the country copes with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I recommend that the para-swimming team have full and uninterrupted access to a 50-meter pool. It is crucial to take our workouts seriously for us to prepare and present the country in the future Games very well,” Ong stressed.
“Mahalaga po talaga yong training area ng mga atleta na permanente. Mahirap mag-train kung laging disrupted katulad ng nangyari sa amin sa pandemic,” said Deriada, adding that in the future Mangliwan could possibly train with other wheelchair racers of the national team.
“Madalas kasi may mga kasamang training partners si Jerrold who could push him harder. This time, he had to train solo,” the coach said.
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