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Gawilan wins gold in Para Games

MANILA, Philippines — Tanker Ernie Gawilan delivered the Philippines’ first gold medal with a swim to remember last night as the country continued to heat up in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games.

Gawilan clocked four minutes and 58.39 seconds to reigning supreme in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S7 in accounting for the Filipinos’ first mint.

The Davao City native is seeking to replicate, if not eclipse his three-gold haul from the last edition in Jakarta, Indonesia five years ago.

Earlier, wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan snared a silver in the men’s 100-meter T52 yesterday to add to the pair of bronzes copped by tankers Gary Bejino and Gawilan the night before.

Mangliwan, a double-gold winner in the Phnom Penh ASEAN Para Games last June, unleashed a burst of speed and raced past South Korean Jeon Jeongde in the final 30-meter stretch to snatch the silver with a clocking of 18.65 seconds, the Filipino’s personal best.

Japanese Ito Tatsuya retained the gold in 17.41 while Jeon settled for the bronze in 18.67.

The feat was made sweeter by the fact that it was the first in four straight appearances for Mangliwan in this quadrennial event.

“Nagpapasalamat ako kay God na binigyan niya ako ng ganitong pagkakataon,” said Mangliwan. “First time na mag-Asian Para Games medal pagkatapos ng apat na kompetisyon. Wala na siguro akong masasabi pa.”

“Nagbunga yung training namin ni coach Joel (Deriada) and Bernard (Ebuen) kasi ang game ko talaga sa bandang dulo dahil basag ako talaga sa starting,” he added.