Blind triathletes remain hopeful despite ASEAN Para Games cancellation

May 15, 2020

LIKE many athletes looking forward to, say, the Olympics or any number of other local and international sporting events, participants of the 10th ASEAN Para Games have been dismayed at the cancellation of the competitions.

The key difference? It was all so close to happening. But a run of unfortunate events (predating even the COVID-19 pandemic) have conspired to dash these athletes' hopes, time and time again.

The Para Games was supposed to run last January but was moved to March, and then put on hold because of the quarantine measures, until finally the official word came down last week from the ASEAN Para Sports Federation: the games would now be officially canceled.

Supposedly bannering the Philippine team in the triathlon event are Jerome and Joshua Nelmida, blind triathlete twins who have been training for months.

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Born with retinopathy of prematurity, their disability hasn't stopped them from pursuing their chosen sport.

“We were looking forward on this event. This is out first time to join the ASEAN Para Games, we trained to hard and we were excited to represent the Philippines. This was supposed to be the first time a totally blind [athlete] will represent our country in the triathlon event,” the 19-year-old twins told SPIN Life.

Jerome and Joshua, however, expressed that they not at all disappointed that league officials put the safety of the participants above all other considerations.

“We all didn’t know that this pandemic will happen all over the world, so it is more important to all athletes, coaches, delegates, and spectators to be safe,” they added. “We are praying that this crisis will end the soonest possible time.”

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The Muntinlupa-based para athletes haven't stopped the grind, continuing to train at home with their teams and instructors. They still continue in their mission to inspire other aspiring athletes, with the belief that no disability can dampen their dreams.

“[We're] training harder, and preparing ourselves to a much bigger event. We would like to prove to ourselves to go further in the field of sports and to be an inspiration to other blind people that we can go out of our comfort zone,” they said.

They added: “At home, we do strengthening and condition, exercising. We do bike training in the house. We actually started training [on] Zoom with the Philippine Triathlon team and Philippine Para Triathlon.”

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