RP debuts in Summer Deaflympics

By Ma. Rosanna Mina, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Sep 10 2009 08:35 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2009 04:42 AM

MANILA – Six Filipino athletes are currently in Chinese Taipei competing in the bowling category of the 21st Summer Deaflympics.

This is the first time that the Philippines sent a delegation to the event previously known as the World Games for the Deaf.

The Philippines’ participation in the Deaflympics was made possible by the country’s inclusion in the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD).

“This beginning hopes to be a bridge of recognition to call the attention of our country to recognize the Deaf as equal to their Hearing counterparts -- in the field of sports,” said Michael Vea, secretary-general of the Phil-Sports Federation of the Deaf.

Vea told abs-cbnNEWS.com in an e-mail correspondence that they decided to focus on bowling because their president, Maria Lovella M. Catalan, is a famous Deaf bowler who has competed in various games in both Deaf and Hearing.

Joining Catalan as the first Filipino Deaflympians are Ariscel Pangilinan Lobo, Anthony Paul Gaston Pacis, Christopher Lloyd Bonpin Uy, Jorrelle Geron Faytaren, and Ma. Cecilia Cortes Villacin.

The six bowlers have been training since March through the assistance of the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Sports Association of the Differently-Abled and Philippine Bowling Congress.

They are coached by Richard Jay R.S. Sunico, sports director of the Phil-Sports Federation of the Deaf.

Not left behind

Although the bowlers were not able to make it to the men and women’s singles, Vea said they are hoping for a better turnout in the doubles.

The Deaflympics began on Sept. 5 and will run until Sept. 15. There are 19 other sports in the Summer Deaflympics Program: athletics, badminton, basketball, cycling, football, handball, orienteering, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, beach volleyball, water polo, wrestling freestyle, wrestling Greco-Roman, taekwondo, karate, and judo.

Russia currently leads the medal tally with 13 gold medals, 17 silver medals and 15 bronze medals, according to the Deaflympics official website (http://english.2009deaflympics.org/bin/home.php).

South Korea, meantime, has 7 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 3 bronze medals while Ukraine has 6 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 15 bronze medals.

The first Deaflympics was held in Paris, France in 1924. Its official site noted that the Deaflympics was the “first games ever on earth for athletes with disability.”

According to Vea, they hope that the country can participate in more sporting events and tournaments.

“Through our membership to ICSD and participation to Deaflympics, we are able to prove that our country is not left behind,” he said.

“It is now on the verge of awakening into being recognized by international sports communities,” added Vea.