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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Bagsit, SEAG hero now partially blind, is new para Games hope

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Archand Bagsit was an elite athlete in his own right, a winner of three Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) gold medals in athletics in 2011 and 2013, and with a very bright future of winning more.

That was until a few years later when a congenital eye disorder made him partially blind.

As his eyesight gradually worsened, Bagsit—who helped the Philippines to relay gold as well as 400-meter gold medal in the 2013 Myanmar edition—admitted it was tough coping with it. But he chose to be tough.

“I refused to let it affect me,” said the 30-year-old Bagsit, who chose to see the silver lining in all of it that he’s now vying for a slot in the Tokyo Paralympics.

“It’s not easy, but for me it doesn’t have to stop me from doing the things that I love, which is athletics,” Bagsit told the Inquirer. “Nothing is impossible if you set your heart to it.”

It helped that Bagsit is now raising a family with wife Jhynnyca Abuel and son Caspian Callen.

“They are my inspirations,” said Bagsit, who will try his luck in the visibly impaired 100-m and 400-m runs.

Along with wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan and amputee jumper Andy Avellana, Bagsit will gun for those slots in the World Para Athletics Grand Prix on May 14 to May 16 in Nottwill, Switzerland.

Before the pandemic, Bagsit was already well within the 11.10 seconds Paralympics requirement for the century dash, running 10.6 seconds. In 400 m, he was running 46 seconds, better than the 50.4 cutoff.

“But that was then, now we are looking for an oval to train in and achieve those times again,” said Bagsit, who is being assisted by coaches Joel Deriada, Bernard Buen and fellow SEA Games champ Ernie Candelario.

So far, only Ernie Gawilan (swimming) is assured of a slot in Tokyo, while table tennis’ Jocelyn Medina is waiting for her confirmation of qualification.

Bagsit said they are looking at going to Tarlac Sports Complex for oval before training flying to Switzerland on May 9.

“I train at home to keep myself fit,” he added. “It’s a tough road, but I’ll give it my best.”


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