Visual impairment not stopping triathlete twins from pursuing athletic dream

Nov 29, 2019

WHEN something is fueled by passion, not even physical disability can stop it.

That’s the case for triathlon twins Jerome and Joshua Nelmida, who were born without corneas, but still swim, bike, and run as active triathletes.

“You can reach your dreams through sports,” shared Joshua. “Gusto ko i-encourage ‘yung mga tulad namin na may disability to try and pursue kahit anong sport na gusto nila, kasi malayo ang pwede nilang marating."

They first got into sports ten years ago, thanks to the encouragement of their mother Annette.

Takot sila sa water dati," she recalled to SPIN Life. "Nagkaroon lang ng sports activities sa school nila dati, nag-try sila ng swimming, sobrang takot nila. Pero at the end of the day natuto sila, tapos hinanap na ako nung coach at sinabi sa akin na may potential ‘yung dalawa. Doon nag-start."

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She continued: "Every year may improvement, all-out support talaga kami ng husband ko. Lahat ng pwede kong ipagawa sa kanila pinapagawa ko kasi gusto ko ma-experience nila kung paano, na hindi hindrance ‘yung blindness nila.”

It was coach Anthony Lozada of Bert Lozada Swimming School who introduced them to triathlon. Lozada, who has received coaching certification from the International Triathlon Union, mentored the twins himself.

As Annette described it, “Na-meet namin si coach Anthony. Siya yung nagpakilala ng triathlon. Swimming coach siya tapos nag-trust ako sa kanya kasi tinuruan niya sila mag-bike — single bike muna tas tandem bike — tapos running. [Siya ang nag-coach sa kanila sa] aquathlon, duathlon, triathlon."

The twins also happen to be avid sports fans.

Jerome said: “Favorite team ko nga sa PBA Ginebra San Miguel. Idol ko sila Scottie Thompson at LA Tenorio. Sila ‘yung nagiging inspirasyon ko, naming mga atleta , nai-inspire ako sa galing nila at mas nagpupursige pa ako mag-training.”

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Joshua, on the other hand, had one wish: To meet his PBA idols and feel their support as he and his brother represent the Philippines during international competitions, just like his idols.

“Ako naman favorite ko San Miguel Beermen, lalo si June Mar Fajardo, minsan naiisip namin na sana makita nila kami and mapanood kung paano mag-triathlon ang mga blind," Joshua said. "Hopefully i-support kasi as team Philippines, just like how we support them."

The 19-year-old twins are already preparing to represent the Philippines in the ASEAN Paragames 2020 triathlon event.

“Malaking karangalan samin, win or lose, to have represented our country, and very glad that we represent the PH in every race,” Jerome said.

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