THE Philippine powerlifting team is looking to win two gold medals in the ninth Asean Para Games starting on Sunday at the Bukit Jalil National Sports Complex in Kuala Lumpur.
Adeline Dumapong-Ancheta, 43, is eyeing the title in the over-86 kilograms division while also expected to challenge for gold is veteran Achelle Guion, 44, in the 45-kg category.
“That’s the team’s target, to get two golds and if we’re lucky, we could get more,” said Dumapong-Ancheta, who had been competing years before the first ever Asean Para Games in 2001.
Marydol Pamatian tries to improve her bronze medal finish in Singapore, while other team members are Agustin Kitan and Romeo Tayawa.
Dumapong-Ancheta has won four gold medals in the Asean Para Games, two silver medals in the Asian Para Games and the country’s very first medal in the Paralympics, a bronze in Sydney 17 years ago.
“Before, we only train if there’s competition and there was even a time we only one shirt with only our country’s flag as design. I also recall one time when we were refused entry into the athlete’s village because we haven’t paid our accommodation,” said Dumapong-Ancheta.
“I’m happy now that the conditions now have tremendously improved,” she added.
Incentives for para athletes are now P150,000 for gold, P75,000 for silver and P30,000 for bronze. Before the new law was passed, winners of their events got P15,000, silver medalists P10,000 and bronze medalists P5,000.
The Philippine Sports Commission also grants gold medal winners like Dumapong-Ancheta a monthly stipend worth P27,000, silver P22,000 and bronze P15,000 while developmental athletes and pool members receive P10,000 to P12,000 monthly.
The event has four classifications — orthopedically handicapped, visual impairment, intellectual impairment and cerebral palsy — and several more categories under each.
The country is fielding 98 athletes including three in boccia, 17 in chess, three in cycling, six in goal ball, five in powerlifting, nine in table tennis, 10 in swimming, 15 in tenpin bowling and 12 in wheelchair basketball. Malaysia has the most number of athletes with 331 followed by Thailand (291), Indonesia (192), Vietnam (150) and Myanmar (120) while the other participants are Singapore (92), Cambodia (70), Laos (50), Brunei (27) and East Timor (14).