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On to the 12th ASEAN Paragames

May 27, 2023 People's Tonight 673 views

Lito CincoI AM writing this piece while at the departure area of Terminal 3, but sorry, I am not Cambodia-bound for the 12th ASEAN ParaGames which starts next week.

Together with my wife and son and some friends, I will take a short work break , as if I am working, by the time you read this, we will be in Taipei and return Tuesday.

But for our para athletes around 170 plus of them, our biggest delegation ever for this kind of competition, it would be all work to try and win those medals as a reward for all their hard work and training.

In Indonesia last year, our para athletes, less than a hundred of them, went home with 28 golds, 30 silvers, and 46 bronzes, this time, with our participation in new events and more team events, and the longer time to prepare, with some even sent abroad for tune-up events.

I believe they will definitely surpass the 28 golds from 2022.

But beyond the increased number and training, it is the morale of our athletes that impresses me most, I was at the send off ceremony hosted by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) at the PICC last Tuesday and I will admit, it was a sight I never imagined before for para athletes, and not just the number of them there.

The energy could be felt in the venue, the way they were behaving, all upbeat, and looking forward to the competition and believing they will perform well, everything was for real.

I have been in sports for more than 4 decades and this was the biggest send off I have seen for para athletes, and they do deserve this kind of support, I had a chat with Kiko Diaz, from the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), and we both agreed that para sports in the country has progressed well the last ten years or so.

They now receive allowances , get more opportunities to train and compete abroad, and provided with the equipments they need, and incentives for winning medals.

According to Kiko, the athletes know their efforts will be recognized and they all want to prove themselves worthy of recognition, their pride in wearing their uniforms is very evident, and they know they get the respect they deserve.

Being a student of human behaviour in my work as an HR practitioner, I think most if not all of them, have moved past their conditions, and have realized that they can live normal lives, albeit with different abilities.

That to me is the biggest factor.

Just a week ago, I met a lot of them close up in the PSC- initiated media relations training I co- facilitated for para athletes, and at the send off party, I met them again, even went around to interview some in sports like wheel chair basketball, powerlifting, tennis, judo, cerebral palsy football, goal ball, and table tennis.

..And it was the same story, the high energy, the optimism, the confidence,no trace of self-consciousness at all, ready to rumble.

PHILSPADA president Mike Barredo added the event would be a good preparation, a test too, for our para athletes in the Asian Games.

I liked what PSC Comm.Bong Coo said, describing the para athletes as the epitome of real courage and resiliency,

Comm.Walter Torres summed it up perfectly, “they are ready to compete.”

And to be interviewed too as champions.

Good lucks guys and gals. By Lito Cinco