When PlayPH met champion swimmer Jillianne Salazar for the first time, her sweet smile and humble personality were what stood out the most. It was almost like she had not achieved so much in a span of 13 years. She came in with both her parents taking turns behind the wheelchair while the other held doors. It was a lovely sight.
Salazar suffers from a birth defect called Spina Bifida, a condition that causes Jillianne’s paralysis from the waist down. For what seems like a hindrance for several athletes to achieve their goals, Jillianne only sees opportunity.
Through her accomplishments, Jillianne has inspired everyone who’s ever doubted themselves at one point. From her early days learning to float in her inflatable pool to racing in olympic-sized stadiums, Jillianne’s medals and trophies perfectly tell the stories of her amazing progress.
The 13-year old prodigy says she makes it a habit to set goals each time she hits the water for training, “ goal ko siyempre i-beat yung time ko at masunod yung coach ko po.” However, her training doesn’t stop when she leaves the pool. Salazar likes to keep herself sharp by visualizing victory each time, “naiimagine ko po kung pano ko i-improve yung galaw ko, kung pano ko i-improve sarili ko sa swimming.”
Although Jillianne’s good habits have kept her afloat, there’s something else that gives her the extra strength she needs to excel.
Super Mom is the nickname she calls her mother, and says that the amount of love and support she and her siblings receive is unmatchable. “Lagi po siya nandoon to correct all my wrongs,” she says. Jillianne also mentions how grateful she is for how her mom doubles the effort when her dad isn’t around because of a career overseas, “Thankful po ako dahil super mom siya pag wala si daddy, tapos po loving siya.”
While Jillianne works hard to chase after her goals and dreams each day, she also teaches us that with a big heart and good habits, anything is possible.