PARALYMPIC swimmer Ernie Gawilan of Davao City, born without legs and with only one hand, stood tall nonetheless after defending his men's 400-meter freestyle S8 in the 9th Asean Para Games swimming competition at the National Aquatic Centre, Bukit Jalil Sports City in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, September 20.
Gawilan, who also competed for the Philippines in the Rio Paralympics last year, retained his gold after clocking a total of four minutes and 57.49 seconds.
He outclassed Vietnam's Dang Van Cong (5:56.09) and S. Phiphatphong of Thailand (5:59.94) who pocketed the silver and bronze, respectively.
The 28-year-old Dabawenyo, however, regretted that he failed to surpass his own record.
"Nalipay ko pero nasayangan ko sa time nako sa 400m free kay abi nako ma-break nako akong personal time nga 4:48 (I'm happy but it was unfortunate that I was not able to break my personal best time of 4:48)," Gawilan said in a Facebook interview, adding that he will try to do his best to defend his men's 200m individual medley gold on Friday.
He also accounted for a silver in men's 100m butterfly S8 event with a time of one minute and 19.86 seconds.
Malaysian James Wong Tien Yu captured the gold after checking in at 1:12:94 while Vietnamese Nguyen Quang Vuong (1:23.62) settled for bronze.
Gawilan also salvaged two relay bronzes.
Meanwhile, fellow Dabawenyo Smith Billy Carter clinched a silver in Para Table Tennis men's TM4 with teammate Darwin Salvacion.
The Philippines was at fifth place in the overall medal tally as of 3 p.m. Thursday, with a total of 14 golds, 17 silvesr and 18 bronzes.
Indonesia was still on top, hauling 90 golds, 51 silvers and 36 bronzes followed by 68-62-48 Malaysia and 38-44-51 Thailand in the 11-country biennial meet.