SURAKARTA, Indonesia — Swimming delivered the country’s first pair of gold medals in the 11th ASEAN Para Games Monday as Ernie Gawilan and Roland Sabido splashed their way to the top of their respective events at the Jatadiri Sports Complex pool in the neighboring city of Semarang.
Comely thrower Cendy Asusano added the third gold in early morning action in ruling the women’s javelin throw F54 at the Manahan Stadium here for a promising start for the PH para-athletes, a majority of them competing for the first time since the 2017 edition of the meet held in Malaysia.
A triple gold medalist in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Para Games, Gawilan kicked off the Philippine campaign by ruling the men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 in a time of four minutes and 54.87 seconds in the outing sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission.
Then Sabido and Arnel Aba led a 1-2 finish in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S9 in clocking 5:09.40 and 5:14.13, respectively, much to the delight of the small Pinoy crowd at the pool led by Philippine Paralympic Committee president Mike Barredo.
“I had a good swim in my first event. I hope I could sustain the momentum,” said Gawilan, 31, who won a pair of gold and silver medals in the regional meet for para athletes held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur five years ago.
The Davao City pride was aiming for another mint as he was scheduled to compete in the 4×100 meter freestyle relays 34 points in the afternoon with Sabido, Aba and Edwin Villanueva, who copped a bronze medal in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S8.
“I am very happy because I didn’t expect that I will get the gold right in my first attempt,” said Asusano, who settled the issue with her heave of 13.72 meters on the first attempt.
Also contributing a bronze medal each for athletics were Joel Balatucan, Daniel Enderes Jr., Armand Dino and Jesebel Tordecilla in the men’s shot put F55, men’s 5,00-meter T20 race, men’s 100-meter T47 race, and women’s discus throw F55, respectively.
Overnight, table tennis also made its modest medal contribution with two bronze medals in the men’s team Class 4 through Billy Cartera, Racleo Martinez and Darwin Salvacion and men’s class 8 doubles courtesy of Jobert Lumanta and Jayson Ocampo.
Counting the silver in men’s 3×3 wheelchair basketball last Sunday, the Filipinos now boast an early overall medal tally of three gold, two silver and seven bronze medals.
More medals were expected to come in the afternoon in swimming, track and field and powerlifting, where two-time Asian Para Games silver medalist Achelle Guion is vying in the women’s 46-kilogram division.