PARALYMPIC swimmer Ernie Gawilan's excitement turned into sadness hours after arriving in Rio de Janeiro on Friday for the Paralympic Games upon learning through his social media news feed about the bombing in downtown Davao City that killed 14 people and left 71 others injured.
“Nakakalungkot isipin na nangyari sa Davao,” the Dabawenyo parathlete told SPIN.ph in an online chat.
Gawilan, who with four other national athletes formi a pocket Philippine delegation for the equivalent of the Olympics for athletes with disabilities, also immediately posted a message of support to his fellow Dabawenyos on his Facebook page.
“Condolence sa mga pamilyang namatayan sa pag bomba...REST IN PEACE MGA BROTHERS AND SISTERS si Lord na ang bahala sa nagbuhat niini tanan,” wrote Gawilan, who also asked for prayers for Davao City and for President Rodrigo Duterte.
Gawilan said he is dedicating his stint in Rio to his countrymen, and to Dabawenyos in particular.
Meanwhile, Gawilan is adjusting well to the Brazilian city as he likened the weather conditions in Rio to that of the Philippines.
“Same lang ang weather, sir,” said Gawilan, who noted that he will plunge into practice as soon as he’s allowed to use the pool.
Joining Gawilan in the Philippine delegation are Josephine Medina (table tennis), Adeline Dumapong Ancheta (power lifting), Agustine Kitan (power lifting), and Jerrold Pete Manglinaw (athletics).
The lean delegation hope to put an end to the country’s fruitless hunt for a gold medal in the quadrennial showpiece.
Gawilan, born with underdeveloped extremities in the hinterlands of Paquibato, will compete in the 400-meter freestyle,100-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke.
He qualified to the Rio Paralympics after winning two gold medals in record-breaking fashion as well as a silver in last year’s Asean Para Games in Singapore.