Team Philippines, led by two-time Paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan, went off to a roaring start by sweeping five gold medals in the 11th Asean Para Games on Monday, August 1, in Indonesia.
The 31-year-old Ernie Gawilan of Davao City clocked four minutes and 54.87 seconds to defend his men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 title at the Jatadiri Sports Complex pool in Semarang, Indonesia.
He bested Thailand’s Kaweewat Sittichaiphonniti and Indonesia’s Suriansyah Suriansyah who wound up for the silver and bronze, respectively. Sittichaiphonniti timed 5:55.120 while Suriansyah registered 6:4.95.
Jakarta Asian Games 2018 triple gold medalist Gawilan said he’s happy to defend his signature event.
“Pero medyo taas gamay akong record ganina kay akong best time gyud is 4:48. Medyo kulba gamay kay kada lumba nako akong mga time jud akong gina-race pirmi (My time increased a bit as my best time is 4:48. I was a bit nervous since every time I compete, I race against my time),” he said in an interview.
Not only gold for Ernie
He also salvaged a bronze with his teammates in the men’s 4X100 freestyle medley event.
Beating his personal best time, according to him, is what drives him to push harder but it seems age has started to catch up with him that’s why he failed to match his best time.
Gawilan said: “Sa edad napud siguro unya lisod sad mag transition sa 400m freestyle (It could be my age and the difficulty to transition in the 400m freestyle event).”
Aside from the 400m freestyle, he also targets to defend his 200m individual medley (IM) gold. He also ruled these two events in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Para Games.
He will also see action in 100m backstroke and 4X100 medley relay events.
Team Philippines tanker
Filipino tanker Roland Sabido (5:09.40) clinched the country’s second gold while teammate Arnel Aba (5:14.13) took the silver in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S9 event.
Cendy Asusano ruled the women’s javelin throw F54 at the Manahan Stadium to win the day’s third gold for Team Philippines at the Manahan Stadium.
“Masaya po ako kasi hindi ko aakalain na makukuha ko yung ginto sa unang bato pa lang (I’m happy since I did not expect to win the gold in my first attempt),” said Asusano who recorded a distance of 13.72 meters.
Jerrold Mangliwan pocketed the country’s fourth gold in para athletics men’s 100-meter T52 race while Angel Otom annexed the fifth gold in women’s 50m backstroke S5.
Mangliwan led another 1-2 PH finish in the event after being challenged by newcomer Rodrigo Podiotan Jr., who placed a strong second and settled for the silver medal.
Other spectacular athletes
Two-time Asian Para Games silver medalist Achelle Guion also got a silver in the women’s powerlifting 45-kilogram division with a hoist of 70 kilos behind hometown bet Ni Nenga Widiasih, who took the gold with a lift of 97 kilograms.
Joel Balatucan, Daniel Enderes Jr., Armand Dino and Jesebel Tordecilla bagged bronzes in the men’s shot put F55, men’s 5,00-meter T20 race, men’s 100-meter T47 race, and women’s discus throw F55, respectively.
Veteran powerlifter Marydol Pamati-an also had bronze in the women’s 41-kg class with a lift of 70 kilos.
The table tennis team also produced two bronzes in the men’s team Class 4 through Billy Cartera, Racleo Martinez, and Darwin Salvacion and in the men’s class 8 doubles courtesy of Jobert Lumanta and Jayson Ocampo.
The men’s 3×3 wheelchair basketball also won a silver.