LOS ANGELES – After two days of competition, the Philippines’ gymnastics team in the Special Olympics have bagged a total of 20 medals, including 10 golds, five silvers.
For Tanya Denamarca of Iloilo, her four gold medals, one silver, and a team bronze was one of the best ways to celebrate her upcoming 21st birthday.
Her three teammates, Jovelyn Gacayan – who captured three golds as well – Sheila Galvez, and Althea Padilla, all hail from La Union.
Moments like these show how a medal can mean the world to someone born with an intellectual disability.
“Para kasi sa kanila, sa mga bata, may belongingness. ”Yong love and support, especially the moral support for them, is very, very given to them. Kaya sabi namin sa kanila, ang panalo nila is a very big achievement para sa kanilang lahat,” said coach Mary Ordono.
The 35 members of the Philippines Special Olympics team all come from different backgrounds – from upper class families to the simple provinces — but mental disabilities can affect any social class.
For Special Olympics Philippines, the goal of the international games is to empower and inspire those struggling with their disabilities.
“Without Special Olympics, they’re just ordinary SPED students, but now, being a member of the movement, they can say to the world, ‘We’re here, we can do just as well as the others’,” said Delia Ortega of Special Olympics Philippines.
The gymnasts were not the only ones to win medal as powerlifter Alden Jimenez also scored a bronze in the bench press.