PARIS-BOUND. Bemedalled Davao Paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan secures a spot in the Paris 2024 Paralympics, meeting the Minimum Qualifying Standards (MQS) during the recent world para swimming championships. This marks his third consecutive Paralympics appearance.
PARIS-BOUND. Bemedalled Davao Paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan secures a spot in the Paris 2024 Paralympics, meeting the Minimum Qualifying Standards (MQS) during the recent world para swimming championships. This marks his third consecutive Paralympics appearance.ERNIE GAWILAN PHOTO

Davao swimmer Ernie Gawilan secures 3rd Paralympics spot

Decorated Dabawenyo Paralympian swimmer Ernie Gawilan has secured a coveted slot in the Paris 2024 Paralympics slated from August 28 to September 8, 2024. This marks his third consecutive Paralympics appearance.

"Lipay kaayo ko kay ikatulong higayon na nako makaapil sa Paralympics. Nakaluy-an gyud ko sa Ginoo. Dili biya tanan makaapil kay dunay standard time para mag-qualify (I am very happy because it is my third time to participate in the Paralympics. God is so gracious to me. Not everyone can participate since there is a qualifying standard time)," the 32-year-old Gawilan said in a Facebook interview with SunStar Davao on Tuesday afternoon, February 20, 2024.

The legless swimmer first made his Paralympics debut in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, followed by the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in Japan, held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), on its official Facebook page, congratulated Gawilan for successfully qualifying for the Paralympics through the Minimum Qualifying Standards, securing a place in the top six in the 400m freestyle and top eight in the 200m individual medley (IM) during the last world para swimming championships.

He said he heard the news from national para-swimming coach Antonio Ong, who received an email from the Paralympics Committee, confirming his earned Olympic slot.

Joining him in Paris is Angel Otom, who secured her Olympic berth via the MQS, placing third in the 50m backstroke and sixth in the 50m butterfly at the worlds.

Currently training at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City, Gawilan expressed his commitment to meet his target time of four minutes and 40 seconds in the 400m freestyle to at least secure a podium finish.

"My target time, however, is still uncertain in ensuring a medal as other swimmers have also become stronger and faster, but I will do my best to achieve that," Gawilan said in the vernacular.

He registered 4:59 at the worlds, which set a Paris Olympics qualifying time of 5:05.

He follows a rigorous training schedule, practicing twice daily with the national para-swimming team, starting as early as 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and then resuming in the afternoon.

During the 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China, he clinched one gold medal and one bronze, thus, earning him a total of P2.4 million in cash incentives from the national government.

Gawilan, originally from Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, relocated to Davao City in 2003 at the age of 11 or 12. He developed his swimming skills and began competing, consistently representing Davao City ever since.

Utilizing the cash incentives earned from numerous medal finishes in international competitions, he purchased a lot and had his house built in the Island Garden City of Samal, which now serves as his residence. MLSA

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