DESPITE finishing last in his first-ever Paralympic event, the less-than-ideal spirit isn't dampening swimmer Gary Bejino's high spirits.
The 25-year-old on Thursday morning clocked in at 3 minutes and 17 seconds in the the men's 200m individual medley SM6 of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games held just this morning.
He admits to feeling disappointed.
"Nung nakita ko results ko nakakapanliit dahil sa layo ng agwat," he said in an interview with some members of Philippine media. "Pero okay lang, ganon lang talaga ang laro."
But Bejino is positive that after this experience, there's nowhere to go but up. After all, this is only his debut event in the Paralympics.
"Na-realize ko na ganon pala kataas yung lebel sa Paralympics, ang layo ng agwat nila akin kaya kailangan ko pang sipagan mag-training para makadikit ako sa mga kapwa ko competitor," he continued.
The Dumaguete native still has three more events. His next is scheduled on Monday for the men's 50m butterfly S6.
Realistically speaking, he revealed that he is just aiming for a spot in the finals, at least.
"Aaminin ko, umaasa lang talaga kami na pumasok kahit finals. Pero napakalaking experience at aral ang makukuha ko dito dahil sa layo ng agwat, sobrag lalakas ng kalaban," he said. "Beterano na 'yung mga iba dito, di katulad ng mga ASEAN, kaya mas gagalingan pa natin."
Gary Bejino wants to be counted among the very best
Bejino has won medals in the ASEAN Para Games, as well as a silver and bronze in the Asian Para Games. But the Paralympics, according to him, is a different beast.
While his expectations are modest for Tokyo, he's certain he'll do his best to improve and prepare for the future. Bejino hopes to come back in the next Paralympic Games, like in Paris 2024.
"Basta mahaba yung preparation, sigurado ako diyan na, mas magiging maganda ang performance in the future kung papalarin. Sobrang eager ako na makabawi pa rin, babalik tayo diyan," he said.
But he's not getting ahead of himself. In Tokyo, he will still compete in 50m butterfly, 400m freestyle, and 100m backstroke. Bejino said he'll be more confident this time, a learning takeaway he got from his first experience.
"Sa tuwing naglalaro ako gusto ko laging nag-e-excel, may na-a-achieve ako kada laro, parang sarili ang kalaban," he said. "Confidence sa sarili ang kailangan ko i-adjust, dahil na-experience ko na 'yung aura ng venue, confidence na lang."
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