TOKYO –Slowly getting used to the spotlight, Gary Bejino was unhappy with his form after bowing out of the men’s 400-meter freestyle-S6 heats of the Tokyo Paralympic Games swimming championships at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre here on Thursday.
Coming off a two-day break, Bejino checked in with a time of five minutes and 52.28seconds in finishing 13th and last overall in the two heats, which left him dissatisfied, according to swimming coach Tony Ong. The Pinoy Paralympian finished 46 seconds behind Rio Paralympic bronze medalist Alison Glock, who led the top eight qualifiers in a time of 5:06.28 in the finals later in the afternoon.
“Gary did not make it to the finals, although nag-improve naman po time niya compared to his time of 6:10 in Berlin,” said Ong, referring to the athlete’s clocking in the Internationale Deutsche MeisterschaftenBerlin 2021 World Para Swimming Series in Germany last June.
“He (Bejino) was not happy with his performance and will go hard and try to improve in the 100-meter backstroke tomorrow,” the coach said of the swimmer’s fourth and final event where he bagged bronze medals in the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bejino will plunge into action in the second heat in lane No. 2 at 9:23 a.m. (8:23 a.m. in Manila) on Friday, with the top eight swimmers entering the finals in the afternoon.
Also competing the same day is wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, who competes in the men’s 100-meter-T52 race finals at 11:07 am. (10:07 a.m.), rounding out the Philippine Paralympic campaign in Tokyo fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Just give me a good start,” said coach para athletic Joel Deriada of the message he sent his athlete from Manila.
“Kapag maganda yong start allthe way na yun. Kaya yun ang naging focus ng training namin the last few days.”
Deriada acknowledged that it will be a huge challenge for Mangliwan, whose personal best in the event is 18.98 seconds, in the run where 2012 London Paralympic triple gold medalist Raymond Martin of the US looms as the top favorite with a personal best of 16.41 seconds.
Meanwhile, Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo announced Thursday afternoon here that taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin was unable to leave for Tokyo after testing positive for COVID-19 in Manila, grounding him and his coach Dindo Simpao. Ganapin, 23, had been scheduled to compete in the men’s -75-kilogram-K44 event on Friday as the first Filipino para athlete to compete in the discipline at the Paralympics.
“Allain is upset at missing this opportunity, but prays this challenge will strengthen his resolve in later international competitions,” Barredo said in a statement.
“The present pandemic has created so many obstacles for our para athletes. The virus has been unforgiving and denied the chance to bring glory and honor to the Philippines,” the PPC chief rued.
Besides Ganapin, powerlifter Achelle Guion was also left behind back home for getting infected while discus thrower Jeannette Aceveda suffered the same fate when she was tested here last week before she could compete in her event, slashing the original six PH Paralympic campaigners by half.(PR)