MANILA, Philippines–Para swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino bagged the first two medals for Team Philippines in the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China.
Gawilan, out to replicate his three gold medals in the 2018 Indonesia edition, checked in third in two minutes and 52.82 seconds in the men’s 200-meter individual medley SM7 at the Hangzhou Olympic Center Aquatic Arena.
The legless Gawilan claimed the bronze behind a pair of Chinese who both swam with one arm and two legs. Huang Xianquan touched the wall first in 2:48.34 and Yang Huaqiang arrived second for the silver in 2:50.73.
“I wasn’t able to defend this event. Still, I’m thankful for producing the first medal for our country,” said the 32-year-old Gawilan in Filipino, who likewise aced the men’s 400m freestyle S7 and 100m backstroke S7 in the Jakarta edition five years ago.
Bejino, a Tokyo Paralympian like Gawilan, followed suit with a bronze in the men’s 100m freestyle S6 after reaching the wall in 1:12.76, foiling a possible podium sweep by the host nation in the event.
Bejino, who lost one arm and one leg after being electrocuted at a young age, beat Tang Qian to the finish by a touch (1:12.85) after the Filipino placed fourth overall in the qualifying heats.
Hometown bets Luo Jinbiao (1:09.80) and Jia Hongguang (1:12.11) grabbed the gold and silver in the event.
The PH para chess team opened its campaign on a bright note as the men’s and women’s PI (physically impaired) chessers won all of their three matches in the first round of the standard events.
FIDE Master Sander Severino showed the way after defeating Mongolia’s Sundui Sonom before Henry Roger Lopez toppled Thailand’s Padu Srikpadee.
Jasper Rom likewise emerged on top over Thai Yoo Khoonme at the Hangzhou Qi-Yuan Chess Hall.
Backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Cheyzer Cristal Mendoza led the women’s team by downing Indonesia’s Yuni while Cheryl Angot subdued Dariaa Kuraidanarova of Kyrgyzstan and Jean Lee-Nacita got the better of China’s Zhang Yue.
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