Earning prestige as the first Filipino para-swimmer in the Paralympic Games finals, Gawilan clocked four minutes and 56.24 seconds in his favorite event, where the 30-year-old from the city of Davao claimed victory at the Asian Games Para 2018 games.
“Ernie is the first Filipino swimmer to reach the final. This is something we can build on. We are happy with the result,” said coach Tony Ong.
Israel’s Mark Malyar reset his own world record with a time of 4: 31.06 for the gold medal, erasing his previous standard of 4: 33.64 in 2019.
Finishing for silver was Andrii Trusov of Ukraine in 4: 35.56 with Evan Austin of the United States claiming the bronze medal in 4: 38.95 after defeating Inaki Basiloff of Argentina.
The president of the Philippine Paralympic Committee, Michael Barredo, announced that Aceveda and his coach, Bernard Buen, tested positive for the virus and were isolated outside the athletes’ village.
Meanwhile, Afghan athletes were crying when they finally made it to the Games, officials said, as Super Sunday, with 63 gold at stake, got off to an exciting start in triathlon.
Afghanistan’s Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli were evacuated to France last weekend from the Taliban-controlled country in a “major global operation,” the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.
“The meeting at the Athletes’ Village was very emotional. There were many tears from everyone in the room, ”said IPC spokesman Craig Spence.
Spence said the Afghan flag that appeared at Tuesday’s opening ceremony was the “first step in keeping the door open” and its arrival was “a very strong message of hope to many others around the world.”
Khudadadi will compete in the -49 kilogram K44 women’s taekwondo on Thursday. Sprinter Rasouli will participate in the men’s T47 long jump on Tuesday after arriving too late for his favorite T47 100m.
A triple gold winner at the 2018 Indonesian Asian Games Para Games, Gawilan qualified for the 400-meter freestyle final after placing sixth overall in the heats with 4: 58.58.
Born without a pair of legs and an irregular left limb, Gawilan will conclude his campaign at these Games on Monday in the men’s 100m backstroke S7.
“We are saddened to share the news that our para-athletic discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda and her coach Bernard Buen tested positive for COVID-19 after undergoing mandatory daily saliva antigen tests,” said Barredo. “They will both be taken to an outside quarantine facility.”
Aceveda, who left for the Japanese capital with the national contingent a week ago, was supposed to see action on Tuesday at the Olympic stadium. She is the first visually impaired Filipina to qualify in these games.
“Jeanette is very disappointed that she will have to withdraw from her event scheduled for August 31st. Although she couldn’t fulfill her dream of competing in the Paralympic Games and representing the Philippines, Jeanette still hopes there will be more opportunities for her. to make this a reality in the future, ” Barredo said.
Powerlifter Achelle Guion stayed in Manila last week also due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“Despite these setbacks, our para-athletes are more determined than ever to have the opportunity to achieve Paralympic success and glory for our country,” said Barredo.
—With a report from AFP INQ
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