Differently abled athlete aims for the gold
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Arman Dino was only 7 years old when he lost his right hand in a firecracker explosion. He snapped out of his depression with the help of a village official and focused his energy on sports, track and field in particular.
Now 29, Dino is a bemedaled athlete who has brought honor to the country.
During the Thailand Para Athletics Track and Field Championship held in Bangkok from July 28 to Aug. 1, he took home three medals—a gold in the 100-meter dash, a silver in the 400-meter and a bronze in the 200-meter.
Differently abled athletes from 14 countries joined the competition. The Philippines was represented by a 60-man team from the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (Philsada).
“I’ve been thanking God that he never left me. My right hand was gone but he gave me strong legs to run, to chase my dreams,” said Dino, a member of the Filipino contingent.
The youngest in a brood of seven, Dino lost part of his right arm when a “Super Lolo” exploded in his hand on Dec. 25, 1991. The loss was difficult to accept.
“It took me five years before I was able to accept the fact that I have lost my right hand. I learned to eat, write and do things with my left hand. My amputated right hand can do only little things, like carrying a bag,” he said.
A barangay worker went to their house in Barangay Alangalang in Mandaue City and encouraged Dino to be part of a group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who were involved in regular activities, including sports.
“When I joined the group, I realized that I was not alone. There are a lot of people like me and they are happy,” Dino said.
With acceptance came recognition of his strength and abilities in track and field.
Dino finished high school at Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School and emerged the fastest runner in an interschool sports event for PWDs in Central Visayas.
He was not able to enter college and pursue a course in fine arts due to financial difficulties. “I believe I can paint using my left hand. I love the idea of expressing myself through painting,” he said.
He kept on training on his own—six days a week—to build his strength and endurance. The hard work paid off.
Dino won his first three gold medals in the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)-Philspada Para National Games in Laguna province in March 2013. Because of his feat, the Philippine team asked him to compete in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Para Games in Burma (Myanmar) on Jan. 10 this year.
It was his first international competition but Dino won silver medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter, and brought home a cash prize of P26,000.
He also garnered one gold and three bronze medals in the Philippine Olympic Committee- PSC National Games in Pasig City in March.
Appeal for support
Dino said his handicap never got in the way of pursuing the sport he loves. “Our handicap is never a reason for us to lose hope .… [PWDs can] also do what normal people can do,” he said in Cebuano.
Now a father to 5-year-old Princess Mae, Dino is setting aside his college aspirations for a career in coaching young athletes.
While he is gearing up for his next stint in the Incheon 2014 Asian Para Games this month in Incheon, South Korea, he is asking for financial and moral support from Cebuanos.
“We all know that support for sports, particularly for athletes like me, is not that much, financially. I need your prayers, too, to give me strength in the competition,” he said.