National para swimmers Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino produced a pair of third-place finishes on Monday night for the country’s first medals at the start of the 4th Hangzhou Asian Para Games swimming championships at the Hangzhou Olympic Center (HOC) Aquatic Arena.
Aiming to defend the first of three titles he won in the 2018 edition in Jakarta, Indonesia, the legless Gawilan clocked 2 minutes and 52.82 seconds in checking in third behind two formidable Chinese foes, who both swam with one arm and two legs.
Huang Xianquan clocked 2:48.34 to pocket the gold while compatriot Yang Huaqiang (2:50.73) settled for silver in the event in front of a banner hometown crowd at the 6,000-seat facility.
A Tokyo Paralympic Games veteran like Gawilan, Bejino, who lost one arm and one leg after being electrocuted at a young age, also had to play third wheel behind two Chinese bets, copping the bronze with a time of 1:12.76 in the men’s 100-meter freestyle S6 finals.
He was able to foil a possible 1-2-3 Chinese, relegating Tang Qian to fourth place by a touch (1:12.85) after Tang had beaten the Filipino earlier in the heats of the stint backed by the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Hindi ko man po na-depensa ang event ko, nagpapasalamat na rin ako na nakapagbigay ako ng unang medalya muli sa bayan sa Asian Para Games (Even though I was not able to defend my event, I’m still thankful that I was able to give the first medal again for our country in the Asian Para Games),” said Gawilan, who hopes to recover in time for the heats of the men’s 400-freestyle on Tuesday morning. (PNA)