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Bejino bows out in men’s 400m free; seeks redemption in 100m back

TOKYO – Slowly getting used to the spotlight, Gary Bejino was unhappy with his form after bowing out of the men’s 400-meter freestyle-S6 heats of the Tokyo Paralympic Games swimming championships at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre here on Thursday.  

Coming off a two-day break, Bejino checked in with a time of five minutes and 52.28 seconds in finishing 13th and last overall in the two heats, which left him dissatisfied, according to swimming coach Tony Ong.

The Pinoy Paralympian finished 46 seconds behind Rio Paralympic bronze medalist Talisson Glock, who led the top eight qualifiers in a time of 5:06.28 in the finals later in the afternoon.

“Gary did not make it to the finals, although nag-improve naman po time niya compared to his time of 6:10 in Berlin,” said Ong, referring to the athlete’s clocking in the Internationale Deutsche Meisterschaften Berlin 2021 World Para Swimming Series in Germany last June.

“He (Bejino) was not happy with his performance and will go hard and try to improve in the 100-meter backstroke tomorrow,” the coach said of the swimmer’s fourth and final event where he bagged bronze medals in the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.  

Bejino will plunge into action in the second heat in lane No. 2 at 9:23 a.m. (8:23 a.m. in Manila) on Friday, with the top eight swimmers entering the finals in the afternoon.

Also competing the same day is wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, who competes in the men’s 100-meter-T52 race finals at 11:07 am. (10:07 a.m.), rounding out the Philippine Paralympic campaign in Tokyo fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.

“Just give me a good start,” said coach para athletic Joel Deriada of the message he sent his athlete from Manila. “Kapag   maganda yong start all the way na yun. Kaya yun ang naging focus ng training namin the last few days.”

Deriada acknowledged that it will be a huge challenge for Mangliwan, whose personal best in the event is 18.98 seconds, in the run where 2012 London Paralympic triple gold medalist Raymond Martin of the US, looms as the top favorite with a personal best of 16.41 seconds.

Deriada will be in lane No. 3 beside Martin, who has Irish-Filipino blood and is still searching for his first gold here, in lane No. 4.


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