AMID heavy downpours, the triumphant Philippine para team that competed in the just-concluded 11th ASEAN Para Games received a warm ‘Heroes’ Welcome’ Sunday afternoon at the Centennial Airport in Pasay City.
With the exception of the wheelchair basketball squads, the majority of the PH contingent that took part in the regional sports fest returned to Manila aboard a Philippine Airlines chartered flight.
The para-athletes received a red-carpet treatment from officials and personnel of the Philippine Paralympics Committee (PPC) headed by its President Mike Barredo and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) led by Officer-in-Charge Atty. Guillermo Iroy, Jr., and newly-appointed Commissioner Olivia “Bong” Coo, offered their congratulations for their efforts in overcoming all odds in producing the country’s all-time high in the ASEAN Para Games.
Competing in 14 disciplines, the PH standard-bearers will be coming home with 28 gold, 28 silver, and 47 bronzes (based on the unofficial count of the PPC), exceeding the previous best of 24-24-26 in the 2009 edition held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as well as the 20-20-29 standing five years ago also in the Malaysian capital.
With most of the PH bets vying in their first international competition for the first time in five years, the country maintained their No. 5 ranking in the unofficial medal standings as of noon here Saturday at the close of the regional showcase for para-athletes in the Central Java provincial capital
Based on the APG website, host Indonesia was expectedly on top of the medal standings with a grand tally of 177-141-110, Thailand was running second (117-116-87), and Vietnam was third (64-60-56), and Malaysia fourth (36-20-14).
“We are all so proud of our Filipino para-athletes in overcoming many severe challenges so they can excel and come back to the country with their best performance yet in the 11th ASEAN Para Games,” noted Barredo stating the outcome of the campaign fully-funded by the PSC.
“Although we finished in fifth place once again, the marked improvement in our medal output showed how determined and hungry our athletes were to perform in Malaysia,” he added.
“With the next ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia next year not too far away, our para-athletes have laid the foundation in training harder and better so they can continue to bring home glory and honor the country. Mabuhay kayong lahat!” he exclaimed.
“Ang buong Pilipinas ay ipinagdiriwang ang tagumpay ng ating mga para-athletes sa 11th ASEAN Para Games,” Coo said.
“Ito ay patunay na para sa atletang Pilipino ay walang anumang balakid o kakulangan ang makakahadlang kung ang nakataya ay karangalan ng bayan,” she stressed. “Buong-buo ang iyong puso para sa bansa.
“You make all of us truly proud of being a Filipino! We cannot thank you enough for your courage and hard work and for lifting our country’s pride! Mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino! For Philippine sports and for the greater glory of God!”
Iroy Jr. also lauded the achievements of the PH para-athletes.
“This is another milestone for Team Philippines. We have surpassed our past APG participation with this big medal haul for this edition. The agency thanks you all for such an inspiring performance. We are all very proud of you,” Iroy said.
Iroy said that the PSC is in the process of arranging a courtesy call of the PH delegation at Malacanang where the nation’s No. 1 sports fan, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is keen on meeting all of the officials, athletes, and coaches that participated in the 11th ASEAN Para Games