Running Beyond Barriers

At Alaska World Milk Day, these twins redefined the boundaries of being an athlete.

Blind since birth, Joshua and Jerome Nelmida have been training as athletes since they were 9 years old.

From the track to the pool and beyond, Joshua and Jerome Nelmida possess a closeness known only to those who have trained together. Taken in addition to their being twins, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume the bond between them must be nigh unbreakable. In fact, the only thing separating the athletic duo from most other 14-year olds is the fact that they were both born without cornea, meaning they have been blind for their entire lives. But that hasn’t stopped them from training and competing in swimming, running, and even triathlon events. With ready smiles, these lifelong sports fans spoke to PlayPH shortly after completing this year’s Alaska Milk Day Run at McKinley West.

The Nelmida twins’ athletic story begins at the age of 9 when their parents suggested they take up the sport of swimming for physical fitness, instilling in the boys a love of active play. In the water, they use the lane lines as their guides, while kicking the number of strokes needed to reach the end of regulation-sized pools. When running, the brothers use the assistance of a guide to lead the way.

Following their initial exposure, it became something they themselves wanted to pursue. These days, they train in swimming two to three times a week and run on the other days.

“I’m happiest when we reach the finish line,” said Jerome. “I’m so proud, because even if we’re disabled, we can show everyone that we can compete. Being disabled isn’t an excuse to just stay home and not do sports.”

When they’re not training or competing, the Nelmida brothers are avid basketball fans who enjoy following the progress of their favorite PBA stars. Despite the fact that they can’t see the action, they have been able to follow along thanks to their father’s narration or tuning in to radio broadcasts. For Joshua, his hero is Calvin Abueva, for his crossover and dunking skills. Now, the brothers are looking forward to the upcoming FIBA Olympic qualifiers, where they will be able to catch all of their favorites from different teams in one place.

“Aces talaga siya,” shared Jerome, of Joshua’s preferred team. “..ako BGSM. Kaya pag Gilas, masaya. Pag Philippines naglalaro, magkakampi kaming dalawa.”

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