FILIPINO para-athletes are thanking the Philippine Sports Commission for its “blockbuster” support, which they hope to channel when they carry the flag in the 10th ASEAN Para Games from March 20 to 28 at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac,
“Si Chairman (Butch) Ramirez, palagi niyang sinasabi na, ‘he has a soft spot in his heart’ para sa mga para-athletes natin. And he truly inspires our para-athletes for what he does in the PSC,” said Team Philippines’ Chef de Mission Francis Diaz.
“Blockbuster ang support ng Philippine Sports Commission. The national government through PSC is virtually funding all the training, international competitions to all our para-athletes. We are very thankful for that commitment,” added CDM Diaz.
From 2017-2019, the PSC spent P182 billion for the training and exposures of national para-athletes.
With the PSC’s backing, Pinay table tennis Paralympian Josephine Medina won a gold medal at the 2019 ITTF Para Bangkok Open in Thailand and was behind the historic 10 golds, 8 silvers and 11 bronze medals of the national para team at 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia, where all the medalists received a total of P16.2 million cash incentive from the agency.
The agency has also helped the para-athletes’ community to receive equal benefits as the abled athletes. The agency is also supporting Para National Games, which started in 2012, Nationwide Alay PARA Atleta Program, which was launched during the 1st Philippine Sports Summit in 2017 held in Diliman, Quezon City and the 1st Pilipinas Para Games last year, which the sports body hosted last year.
CDM Diaz believes that all these programs have helped the Philippine Paralympic Committee to discover more talents for the national pool.
“Dahil sa ating grassroots development program at sa support ng PSC, lumawak po ‘yung training pool ng ating coaches at naka-identify sila ng mga para-athletes para mapalakas ang national team,” said CDM Diaz.
In the upcoming 2020 APG, the host Philippines will send 250 para-athletes, including over 80 officials for the largest multisport event for the differently-abled athletes in Southeast Asia, which only happens biennially.
This is expected to be the biggest Philippine contingent in APG history.
In the 2017 edition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, there were Filipino 80 para-athletes and 20 officials.
In the said year, the Philippines placed 5th overall, the best-ever finish of the country so far in the games, with a total of 69 medals composed of 20 golds, 20 silvers, and 29 bronze medals.
As the country hosts the APG this year, Diaz is hoping that the Philippine para-athletes will surpass the previous standing in Malaysia.
“Basta ang commitment natin, we will try to improve our last finish in the ASEAN Para Games. Kung maging no. 4 tayo, that’s an improvement already. Kung no. 3, mas maganda. So syempre, we will aspire for a podium finish.” said Diaz.
Sixteen regular sports are in the APG calendar, namely archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, bowling, chess, cycling, 7-a-side CP football, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, triathlon and wheelchair basketball, plus one demonstration sport —para obstacle course.