SURAKARTA –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.

Led by Cendy Asusano, who bagged a gold medal in the women’s javelin throw (third from left), track and field medalists proudly pose for posterity with the national flag after seeing action in the athletic competition of the 11th ASEAN Para Games at the Manahan Stadium Monday. With Asusano are bronze medalists led by sprinter Arman Dino (left), discus thrower Jessebel Tordecilla (second from left), shot put thrower Joel Balatucan(right) and 5,000-meter runner Daniel Enderes Jr. (standing, right).

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 in 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. “Naging maganda po ang swim ko sa unang event. Sana magtuloy-tuloypo ito,” said Gawilan, 31, who won a pair of golds and silvers 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. “Masaya po ako kasi hindi ko aakalain na makukuha ko yung ginto sa unang bato pa lang,” 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.

Among those likewise expected to figure prominently for gold are wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, who will see action in the men’s 100-meter dash T52, and Jeannete Aceveda in the women’s discus throw F11-13 plusAngel Otom in the women’s 50-meter backstroke S5.

The country’s standard-bearers aim to surpass the previous haul of 20 gold, 20 silver and 29 bronze medals in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

Source: Manila Bulletin (