For many an athlete, few things in life are as potent as the cheers of a supportive crowd. It is the reason that teams crave the home court advantage. Indeed, the mere knowledge that there are people who care about you and what you’re doing can mean the difference between pushing forward and giving in to your body’s demands to stop and take a rest. For that matter, even jeers, taken in the right context, have been known to spur athletes on. Motivating, inspiring, and energizing, it all comes down to how you choose to hear it.
But what if you can’t hear any of it? What drives you forward then?
“When I do triathlons, it is not about hearing; it is about going,” says deaf triathlete Lester Lagos, who began to lose his sense of hearing at the age of 5. The only deaf athlete at the IronMan 70.3 held in Cebu earlier this month, Lagos is a prime example of what one can accomplish with the right frame of mind, having decided early on that he was unable (or unwilling) to accept a life of disability.
A lifelong swimmer, Lagos possesses a competition record that anyone would be proud to have, accumulating awards in over 50 local and international swimming competitions before shifting to the swim-bike-run world of triathlons in 2013. Discovering he had an affinity for it, Lagos decided to pursue the sport, with the aim of signing up for two triathlons a year.
Lagos’ status as a model of achievement extends to his academic and professional records, with degrees in multimedia and culinary arts to his name, as well as a certification as the world’s very first deaf anti-gravity yoga instructor.
Outside of school, the accolades kept coming. In 2011, Lagos was named one of Go Negosyo’s Top 50 Young Entrepreneurs for his work in pioneering his own design studio, and he was recognized with a 2011 PLDT SME Next Gen Bossing Ako Award. In 2013, Lagos was awarded the title of Makati’s Most Outstanding PWD.
Ever humble, Lagos spends his free time trying to share what he had learned with the deaf young athletic community, showing them that the only thing holding them from accomplishing their goals is their own ambition and drive to succeed. Working towards his goal of creating a comprehensive program for athletes with special needs, he has established the Philippine Aquatic Sports Federation for the Deaf.
“I want to tell kids that their disability is their strength,” Lagos told the Cebu Daily News after completing the IronMan 70.3. “You need to be proud of what makes you who you are. You can’t put yourself down for something that makes you different.”
For someone without the ability to hear, Lester Lagos is one man who knows how to make people listen, and that is something definitely worth cheering for.