MANILA (PNA) — 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 September 12.
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.
Php1 million reward
Medina will be PHP1 million richer when she comes home after winning the bronze medal at the Rio Paralympics.
The 46-year-old Medina will get the money from the Philippine Sports Commission, the government agency tasked to award cash incentives to national athletes who win medals in international competitions.
Republic Act 10699, which was signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on Nov. 13, 2015, expands the coverage of incentives granted to national athletes, including those with disabilities, and coaches.
Under the new incentives law, winners in the Olympic Games will receive PHP10 million (gold), PHP5 million (silver) and PHP2 million (bronze); for the Asian Games, the gold medalist will be entitled to PHP2 million, the silver medalist PHP1 million and the bronze medalist PHP400,000; while for the SEA Games, the incentives are PHP300,000 (gold), PHP150,000 (silver) and PHP60,000 (bronze).
For the Paralympic Games, the gold winner will get PHP5 million, the silver medalist PHP2.5 million and the bronze medalist PHP1 million.
WATCH: Medina’s qualifying match with Norway’s Dahlen