BBM to para athletes: I believe you can, too!

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is looking forward to a fruitful campaign of Filipino para athletes competing in the 11th Asean Para Games that formally opened Saturday.

“I believe you can match the success of our other athletes who competed in international games like this one,” Marcos said in a videotaped inspirational message released by the Philippine Sports Commission through its Facebook account over the weekend.

President Marcos cited the successes of Filipino athletes in international play such as karateka Junna Tsukii, who won the country’s second gold medal at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama and the Filipinas capturing the Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship trophy for the first time in front of a hometown crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last month.

PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wishes the national para team good luck.

The most recent triumph came from pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who bagged a bronze medal in the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in the process breaking his own Asian and national record by clearing 5.94 meters last week.

“Good luck to all of you and I’m sure you’ll again be putting our country on the world map,” said Marcos in expressing his confidence that the 144-strong national para-athletes would deliver in the 11-nation sportsfest.

Philippine Paralympic Committee Mike Barredo was grateful to President Marcos’s show of support for the country’s para-athletes—a sign, he said, that the sports-conscious President had not overlooked them.

“We would like to salute President Bongbong Marcos for his short yet inspiring message for our national para-athletes…the first major international multisport event we are taking part in under his administration,” Barredo said. “Surely his message will drive our athletes to strive harder.”

Barredo again thanked the full support of former Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.

“During the time of Chairman Butch, our para-athletes and the Paralympic program have enjoyed unprecedented support,” he said.”

The Philippine campaign, meanwhile, goes into overdrive Monday with the national athletes seeking to contest 32 gold medals in athletics, swimming and powerlifting in separate venues here and in the neighboring city of Semarang.

Tokyo Paralympians Jerrold Mangliwan and Jeanette Aceveda lead the track and field challenge at the Manahan Stadium where 20 golds will be up for grabs in the first major international stint for the majority of these athletes since the 2017 Malaysia edition of the meet.

Wheelchair racers Mangliwan, who won two golds in the 2015 Singapore Asean Para Games, and teammate Rodrigo Podiotan Jr. are vying in the men’s 100-meter T52 race inside the sprawling 20,000-seat arena. Aceveda, a triple gold medalist in the 2013 Naypyidaw, Myanmar Games, who is visually impaired, is scheduled in the women’s discus throw F11-13 in the overseas stint supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.

National para Head Coach Joel Deriada said that among the rookies to watch are Daniel Enderes Jr., a silver medalist in the Asian Youth Para Games in Manama, Bahrain last December, and King James Reyes, who see action in the men’s 800-meter T20 and T46 events, respectively.

Wheelchair racer Arman Dino will try to surpass his silver-medal finish in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur five years ago when he competes in the men’s 100-meter run T47 together with Arvie John Arreglado.

Tokyo Paralympic veteran Ernie Gawilan looms as a top gold prospect in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 class at the Jatidiri Sports Complex pool in Semarang, located 104.8 kilometers northwest of Surakarta. Also tipped to make a splash is newcomer Angel Otom, an Asian Youth Para Games bronze medalist, in the women’s 50-meter backstroke S7 event in the swimming competition where nine golds are at stake on opening day.

Flag-bearer and two-time Asian Para Games silver medalist Achelle Guion tries to contribute to the country’s medal production as she competes in the women’s 45-kilogram event of powerlifting at the Solo Paragon Hotel. Also eyeing medals are Marydol Pamati-an and Denesia Esnara in the women’s 41-kg and 50-kg. categories, respectively.

In other action, the national men’s and women’s wheelchair squads kick off their bid in the five-a-side basketball tournament both against Cambodia at the GOR Sritex Arena.