Archand Bagsit was an elite athlete in his own right, a winner of three South East Asian Games (SEAG) gold medals in track and field in 2011 and 2013, and with a very bright future of winning more.
It was until a few years later, when a congenital eye disease left him partially blind.
As his eyesight gradually worshiped, Bagsit – who helped the Philippines relay gold and the 400-meter gold in the 2013 Myanmar edition – admitted it was tough to keep up. But he chose to be tough.
“I refused to let it affect me,” said Bagit, 30, who chose to see in all of this the fact that he was now vying for a berth at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“It’s not easy, but for me that shouldn’t stop me from doing the things I love, which is athletics,” Bagsit told the Inquirer. “Nothing is impossible if you put your whole heart into it.”
It has helped that Bagsit is now raising a family with his wife Jhynnyca Abuel and son Caspian Callen.
“These are my inspirations,” said Bagsit, who will try his hand in the 100m and 400m races for the visually impaired.
With wheelchair runner Jerrold Mangliwan and amputee jumper Andy Avellana, Bagsit will compete in these slots at the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix May 14-16 in Nottwill, Switzerland.
Before the pandemic, Bagsit was already well within the 11.10 seconds demanded by the Paralympic Games for the dash of the century, or 10.6 seconds. In the 400m, he was running 46 seconds, better than the threshold of 50.4.
“But that was then, now we are looking for an oval to train and reach those times again,” said Bagsit, who is assisted by coaches Joel Deriada, Bernard Buen and fellow SEA Games champion Ernie Candelario.
So far, only Ernie Gawilan (swimming) is guaranteed a place in Tokyo, while table tennis Jocelyn Medina awaits confirmation of qualification.
Bagsit said they plan to head to the Tarlac sports complex for an oval before training for Switzerland on May 9.
“I train at home to stay in shape,” he added. “It’s a tough road, but I’ll do my best.”
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