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The challenge in paratriathlon in the Philippines

I have been writing about sports for a long time already, around four decades to be honest about it, as i will be turning 50 again for the 13th time this month, starting off with weekly sports magazines doing features and graduating to contributing to various national broadsheets and tabloids both as a contributor and a sports columnist, and even doing travel and lifestyle features from time to time.

And I hope to continue writing as long as I still can see the letters in the computer’s keyboard and my fingers can still hit the right keyboard most of the time. You see, what is good about writing is there is no retirement from it. Ironically, I have never worked full time in any newspaper or magazine nor have I taken up journalism in college, which I never finished in the first place.

But this will be the first time I will be doing a regular column for a weekly broadsheet, this paper I mean and I am looking forward to a long term relationship with The Market Monitor and I hope the readers will start following my pieces, normally I write on anything in sports, doing it with a lot of humor and subtle sarcasm as needed, or serious if it is a heavy topic and I do not see any reason why I should change my style at all.

I will dwell on situations, events, and personalities, and current issues in sports. When I started writing way back in 1977 for Sports World, my beat was basketball, from collegiate, amateur, and professional, road running from fun runs to full marathons and even ultra marathons, and whatever assignment I could get including non-mainstream sports like rodeos, windsurfing, skydiving, mountain races all the way to Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, which I climbed ten years ago with my daughter.

But if there is one sport that I have involved myself beyond writing it regularly is triathlon, a swim-bike-run event that has become the country’s fastest growing sport since it was introduced here in the mid 80’s. In fact, I was able to see one of the earlier triathlons in Batangas when the number of participants did not even reach 20 compared to what it is now, thanks to the efforts of Tom Carrasco and the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP).

The sport has certainly grown not just in quantity but in quality as the Philippines has been reigning it over in the region and for the last two stagings of the SEA Games, we won the gold medals in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Now, there are so many triathlon races and race organizers, coaches and trainers, and a lot of young kids are getting into it now.

Late last year, Tom asked me if I could be the chairman of the Philippine Paratriathlon Committee ( PPTC ), a volunteer work with no money involved, which eventually will evolve into a separate National Sports Association ( NSA ). Paratriathlon involves the same three disciplines but only for the PWD’s or the differently abled, this is the politically correct term to use, as against the able-bodied athletes. The direction worldwide is to have a ruling body in sports for these athletes similar to the International Olympic Committee ( IOC ), this time designated as the International Paralympics Committee ( IPC ).

Each discipline then eventually will have its own NSA here under the Philippine Paralympics Committee ( PPC ), the local counterpart of the Philippine Olympic Committee ( POC ). Presently it is still the PHILSPADA which is the umbrella organization for PWDs in sports but in the case of paratriathlon, it took the lead already and this is where I am now involved actively.

Since last year, we have been preparing our plans to promote and develop paratriathlon, with the hope that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) approve TRAP’s request for funding of paratriathlon even as we are also looking into raising additional funds on our own. We are presently sourcing out possible members of the national paratriathlon training team with two major events in the future, the Asian Paratriathlon Championship set August this year in Albay and the SEA Paragames in 2019 which we will be hosting.

We have communicated with the various local and international bodies like the PSC ,the POC, and the PHILSPADA.While abroad, we have introduced ourselves to the International Triathlon Union ( ITU ) and the Asian Triathlon Confederation ( ASTC ). We also tap possible supporters for the sport here and abroad, companies with CSR programs and foundations, and you will be surprised at the positive response we are getting from some individuals who have offered to help us like Kim Atienza, Gerald Henderson, race organizer, Carlos de Guzman, and Dickoy Magdaraog, a PWD himself who wants to help other PWDs .

Since we will be forming our own national paratriathlon team, we have touched base with the military, and as of now, have received a positive response from the Philippine Marines. Our head coach Anthony Lozada will be working on the screening. But the best thing is getting in touch with the Cebuana triathlon community who launched its own program to produce Cebu’s first paratriathlete.

The fact is they have already succeeded with Alex Nino Silverio, a 29 year old one armed Cebuano who has completed his first triathlon already and we have assured him of a slot in the national training team.These guys in Cebu deserve credit led by the Cebu Parklane International Hotel owners Basil and Allan Ting, Bobby Martinez of Infinite Datacom, triathlon coach Andoy Remlino, Steve Liu and Robert Go.

I was in Cebu recently and met with them including Silverio himself and the hotel GM Cenelyn Manguilimotan who shared the Cebuano’s aim of helping Silverio qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Japan and we will be working with them to achieve common objectives.

It is these people and other paratriathlon supporters who make our efforts worth it and our commitment to them is to work only for the interest of the paratriathletes and the sport with everything we do to be transparent to all.

That is the bottomline.

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