Some 900 Special Education (SPED) athletes are expected to troop to San Jose de Buenavista, Antique to compete in the different categories of special games in this year’s Palarong Pambansa and prove that no physical barriers can restrict them from going for the gold.
The special games, which was first included during the 2008 Palarong Pambansa held in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, will include events such as athletics, goalball, bocce and swimming.
Student-athletes with intellectual disability, and who are visually impaired and orthopedically handicapped/amputee enrolled in SPED classes in the public and private schools for school year 2016-2017 will participate in the different special games events.
Each region is allowed to field in a maximum of 55 delegates composing of athletes and coaches.
The age categories are as follows: visually impaired (open category, but up to 25 years old only); intellectual disability (15 years old to 25 years old only); ortho/leg amputee (open category, but up to 25 years old only); and goalball/bocce/swimming (open category, but up to 25 years old only).
The competition categories are the following: Visually Impaired – athletics (100 meters, standing long jump and shot put) and goalball; Intellectually Disabled – athletics (100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, 4 x 100 meters, running long jump and shot put), bocce (single, double, and team), and swimming (50-meter backstroke, freestyle and breaststroke); and Ortho/Amputee – athletics (shot put) and swimming (50-meter backstroke, freestyle and breaststroke).
Besides awarding the top three finishers, medals will also be given to the fourth to eighth outstanding athletes per category.
Dennis Esta, Tournament Manager for Para Games, reiterated that athletes with disabilities will be well-taken cared of.
In a press conference in March, Education Secretary Leonor Briones shared a story about a blind runner who carried the torch in a regional Palaro.
“I thought this is what democracy is all about. Inclusion is what it is all about. This is what we mean when we say no one is left behind,” she added.
The venue for athletics and swimming will be at the Binirayan Sports Complex while goalball and bocce will be held at the Antique SPED Center.
This year’s Palaro, with the theme “2017 Palarong Pambansa: Converges Youth Power, Builds Sustainable Future,” will be held from April 23 to 29.