PHILIPPINE Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo was guardedly optimistic about the prospects of the national para team which leaves on Tuesday on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight for the 11th Asean Para Games set July 30 to August 6 in Surakarta, Indonesia.
“I am guardedly optimistic about the chances of our national para athletes due to the circumstances leading to the 11th Asean Para Games,” said Barredo on the eve of the departure on Monday of the contingent composed of 144 athletes, 38 coaches and 40 officials.
“Since the last one held in 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, we have missed two editions of the Para Games,” noted the PPC president, including the 10th edition that was supposed to be hosted by the Philippines in early 2020 but was shelved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Due to the restrictions and limitations under the pandemic, the training of our national para athletes has been limited while there has also been a drought in international exposure and competition as well,” Barredo said.
“The last international competition that majority of our athletes have had was the 2018 Asian Para Games while some were fortunate to compete in the qualifiers and participate in the Tokyo Para Games last year,” he added.
Barredo was grateful for the bubble training of the national athletes of over a month provided by the Philippines Sports Commission at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City as well as its funding of the country’s participation in the regional sportsfest for para athletes.
“Thanks to the PSC, at least our athletes will be more prepared for the battles that await them in Indonesia,” he said.
“So duplicating our finish in the 2017 Para Games in Malaysia would be a workable target,” said Barredo, referring to the 20 gold, 20 silver and 20 bronze medals Filipino athletes won to finish fifth overall in the 11-nation meet five years ago.
“Nonetheless, I believe our national para athletes are hungry and eager to perform their best for the country in Indonesia. They all want to make their countrymen proud,” he stressed, citing the wave of outstanding feats of Filipino athletes in recent weeks.
A former football player and avid fan of the sport, Barredo mentioned the Filipinas, the national women’s football team, in capturing the Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship trophy for the first time and the bronze medal won by pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena in the world athletic meet in Eugene, Oregon yesterday.
“Inspired by feats of the Filipinas and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, I am certain that our national para athletes are just as keen to share the spotlight in the coming days by bringing home medals and honors for the country in the Para Games,” Barredo said.