THE Philippine para sports community got a big lift in 2018 as the country posted its best-ever finish in the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Not only did the country break its medal drought in the multisport conclave since 2010, it won 10 gold medals in this edition of the quadrennial sports event. The Philippines finished 11th in the medal tally after also copping eight silvers and 11 bronzes - the most the country has ever achieved.
Leading the country’s assault were Sander Severino with four gold medals in chess and Ernie Gawilan, who topped three events in swimming. The men’s standard chess team, bowler Kim Ian Chi and cyclist Arthus Bucay also bagged gold.
The Filipino para athletes continued to show that they belong in the Philippine sports landscape following developments over the past years.
The medalists of the Asian Para Games were the first recipients of the cash incentives that now includes differently-abled athletes. Under Republic Act 10699, gold medalists of the Paralympics will receive P5 million, Asian Para Games P1 million, and Asean Para Games P150,000.
Last year, the Philippines placed fifth in the Asean Para Games in Malaysia, two notches better from two years before in Singapore.
“We have improved a lot in terms of support,” said Philippine chief of mission to the Asian Para Games Kiko Diaz. “The grant that the PSC has given to the para athletes is really astronomical in terms of figure. That’s meant for their training equipment, training supply, and competition uniforms. Lahat naibigay ng gobyerno.”
“In terms of private support, we have several small companies who have somehow contributed para makatulong sa campaign ng mga athletes natin. Hindi malalalaking amount, hindi major sponsor, not yet. But may mga mangilan-ilan na tumutulong na sa mga atleta natin,” said Diaz.