Literally paralyzed by the pandemic, the Philippine Paralympic team concluded its 2020 Tokyo Paralympics campaign with no medal as the novel coronavirus decimated half of the original six-person contingent.
Swimmer Gary Bejino and wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan finished the country’s campaign dead last in their final races on Friday.
Earlier this morning, Bejino was dead last among twenty para-swimmers in the 100 meter backstroke – S6 with a time of one minute and 28.87 seconds.
Jia Hongguang of China ruled the event with a time of one minute and 12.72 seconds while Matias de Andrade of Argentina edged Croatia’s Dino Sinovcic in a photo finish for the silver medal.
In the 100 meter wheelchair race – T52, Jerrold Mangliwan was dead last among eight finalists with a time of 20.08 seconds.
However, an American athlete of Filipino blood won the gold medal in that race as Raymond Martin collected his seventh Paralympic gold medal and first in Tokyo with a time of 16.99 seconds.
Yuki Oya of Japan and Leonardo Perez Juarez of Mexico got the silver and bronze medal, respectively.
China continues to dominate the medal count and is most likely to be the overall champion with 85 gold medals.
The United Kingdom is at distant second with 37 gold medals as the quadrennial meet for persons with disabilities wil conclude on September 5.
Virus strikes PH para-athletes
The Philippines medal-less exit comes in the heels of tragedy as 2016 bronze medalist Josephine Medina succumbed likely to COVID-19 late last night. She was 51.
According to her coach Louie Eballa, Medina has been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms since last week but her test results are yet to be released.
Medina, amputated in his left arm due to polio, won the Philippines’ second Paralympic medal by snagging the bronze in Rio in women’s table tennis – class 8.
Medina was a near medal finisher in the 2012 London meet but lost in the bronze medal match against Sweden’s Josefin Abrahamsson.
The coronavirus also led to the early departure of powerlifter Achelle Guion, shot put athlete Jeanette Aceveda, and taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin from their competitions, leaving behind Bejino, Mangliwan, and Asia’s fastest legless swimmer Ernie Gawilan.
Gawilan and Mangliwan were the Philippines’ best finishers in Tokyo, placing sixth overall in the 400 meter freestyle swim and 1,500 meter wheelchair race, respectively.
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