Pinoy bets end Tokyo journey

TOKYO, Japan — 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. He made a blunder while going for the turn at the halfway mark so he had an open turn. But we are still happy with his time,” swimming coach Tony Ong said in the light of the challenges they faced here.

Over at Japan National Stadium under drizzling conditions, Mangliwan had another problematic start and finished 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. The 20 seconds was really too slow for him,” athletics coach Joel Deriada said. “There were really some problems.”

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.

“It’s really important to have a permanent training area for the athletes. It’s really hard to train if we would always get disrupted just like what happened during the pandemic,” said Deriada, adding that in the future Mangliwan could possibly train with other wheelchair racers of the national team.

“Usually, Jerrold has a training partner who pushes him hard. This time, he has to train solo.”

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