The Philippines won its first medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics courtesy of table tennis player Josephine Medina in the women’s singles Class 8 division on Monday.
Medina defeated pulled off an 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 victory over 2015 European Para Championships silver medalist Julianne Wolf of Germany to improve her fourth-place finish at the 2012 London Paralympics four years ago.
Reigning champion Mao Jingdian of China pocketed the gold medal after beating Thu Kamkasimphou of France, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2.
“I have been praying to God that one day the Philippines would win a medal; the last time in London, I came so close I finished in fourth place,” said Medina in an interview with the International Table Tennis Federation.
“Here the competition has been really tough but as I told you before when I beat Aida Dahlen and qualified for the main draw, for God nothing is impossible!” she added.
“When you play, you must believe and you must give absolutely everything; now the Philippines will not go return home without a medal,” said Medina. “Today I did not win for myself, I won for my team, for my country, I won for the Philippines.”
Playing table tennis served as therapy for Medina, who was a polio victim.
“My father was on the national team. I was sick as I was a polio victim and table tennis is my therapy. I used to compete with able-bodied athletes and qualified for the national team but they told me you cannot be in the national team for the able-bodied as you are disabled. The rejection has become my inspiration and I train hard and I just want to prove that disability is not a hindrance in achieving your goal. It’s just an instrument in reaching success in your life,” she said.
Medina, a gold medalist in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games in Singapore, also dedicated her victory to her father, who died of heart attack, while working as coach in Saudi Arabia in 2004.
The Philippines won its first medal in the Paralympics in 2000 when powerlifter Adeline Dumapong bagged the bronze in Sydney, Australia.
For winning the bronze medal, Medina will be receiving cash incentive from the government based on Republic Act 10699 known as National Athletes, Coaches and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act.
According to the law, a gold medal is worth P5 million, silver is P2 million and bronze is P1 million with the Philippine Sports Commission as the issuing agency. Medina’s coach will also get a separate reward.
“We are happy of Josephine winning bronze. The signs of the time for Philippine Sports and the momentum are very good. From Hidilyn to Josephine and our preparations to the 2020 Olympics are very encouraging and the Duterte administration,” said PSC Chairman William Ramirez in a statement.
“Josephine will get P1 million and plan to give allowances to all Philippine Paralympics delegates during our board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday),” he added.