TOKYO: All eyes will be on swimmer Gary Bejino, who will be the first Filipino campaigner to plunge into action in the World Para Games as he competes in the men’s SM6 200-meter individual medley at the Tokyo Aquatic Center here on Thursday.
A back-to-back gold medalist in the Asean Para Games in the 2015 Singapore and 2017 Malaysia editions, respectively, Bejino is racing in lane No. 7 in the second of three heats starting at 9:32 a.m. (8:32 a.m. Manila time).
The top eight overall finishers in the heats will enter the finals scheduled at 5:22 p.m. (4:22 p.m.) later in the day.
Bejino would have been joined by another para-athlete in competing in the second day of action of the World Para Games in the stint supported by the Philippine Sports Commission. But powerlifter Achelle Guion, who also set to compete Thursday, had to stay at home in the country after testing positive for Covid-19 on the day of the Philippine contingent’s departure for Tokyo last Sunday, the Philippine Paralympic Committee announced last Tuesday.
“Medyo kinakabahan po kasi ako ang unang sasabak sa atin pero kaya pong labanan,” said the 23-year-old athlete, who was electrocuted at the age of seven that left his entire body badly burnt and prompted attending doctors to amputate his right arm and left leg.
“They (Bejino and Gawilan) are very trainable, and they accept what coaches tell them to do. It’s very hard to find athletes with that same kind of mentality,” said Rosario, a two-time Olympian, who was the chef de mission of the national Paralympic squad in the 2015 Asean Para Games in Singapore. (TMT)