DAVAO CITY – The first member of the Philippine paralympic swimming team who qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics has expressed a strong desire to produce a medal for the Philippines on the coveted international sporting event.
The Paralympics is the Olympics for the differently-abled athletes around the world.
In an interview over PTV Sports, Davaoeño paralympic swimming star Ernie Gawilan said he will do his best to swim well in the Paralympics which is tentatively set in June or July this year.
“Basta makapag-training ulit ako para masuklian ko man lang ang ang naitulong sa akin ng gobyerno,” Gawilan said.
Gawilan said he is very eager to return to active training in the water via a bubble set-up especially that the Paralympics in Tokyo is fast approaching.
“Anytime naman ready na ako bumalik ng trainings especially lapit na ang Paralympics,” Gawilan added.
Gawilan revealed the last time he had a water training in Island Garden of Samal where he is currently staying was on December 17.
The Davaoeño got the Paralympic slot for swimming after the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) gave the slot to him.
It was learned, the IPC gave one slot to the Philippines to compete in swimming in the Paralympic Games, and since Gawilan has the most number of Paralympic qualifying points, he gets the coveted slot.
Last September 16,2019, Gawilan secured a respectable finish in the World Paralympic Swimming Championships in London after placing 12th in the 50-meter butterfly event with a time of 35.05 seconds.
The Para Asian Games gold medalist also finished 10th in his favorite event, the 400-meter freestyle.
Gawilan qualified to compete in London after winning the silver medal in the 400-meter freestyle event in the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series in Singapore on May 11, 2019.
Gawilan’s time of 53.36 seconds was more than enough to qualify for the world championships.
Gawilan, who was born with no legs and an incomplete arm due to an attempted abortion and poor pre-natal healthcare, won second place in Singapore behind gold medal winner Uchu Tomita of Japan and ahead of third placer Andrei Granichka of Russia.
The Davaoeño earned public attention after becoming the first Filipino to win a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Para Games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Gawilan clocked in at two minutes and 52.43 seconds to race past Chen Liang-Da of Chinese Taipei and Jadhav Suyash Narayan of India who finished second and third, respectively in the men’s 200-meter individual medley SM7 event.
Chen Liang-Da recorded a time of 2:55.90 while the Indian tanker clocked in at 2:56.51
Apart from that, Gawilan also managed to capture a silver medal in the men’s 50-meter freestyle S7 event where he timed in at 31.93 seconds.
Singapore’s Wei Soong Toh went on to secure the gold in the event as Narayan earned his second bronze.