By Mariel Abanes
Upon learning about twins Jerome and Joshua Nelmida’s athletic journey, there’s a spark of hope for every individual who aims to achieve their dreams no matter the hurdles. In their case, the 18-year-olds were born without corneas. But their disability didn’t wane their optimism. In fact, both were living their lives to the fullest, thanks to the overwhelming support and their sheer determination to finish on top.
Swimming came first for these athletes, who took the sport not just for recreation, but to start an active lifestyle. Four summers later, renowned Coach Anthony Lozada of Bert Lozada Swim School introduced the twins to triathlon, and it was (literally) the starting line of their race. Their goal: To be the first blind triathletes in the Philippines, and the two worked hard to reach this aim. But more than making a name for themselves in the paralympics scene, they also marked their spot in the field of sports at a young age.
The Nelmida twins credit Coach Anthony for the rigorous training in the sport. Combined with Jerome and Joshua’s go-getter attitude, they easily adapted to the technicalities of swimming, running, and biking, further enhancing their bodies and minds as needed to excel in every game. “We want to prove that blindness is not a hindrance to do sports or to do things that normal people can do,” they say. “We also want to show that our ability is greater than our disability.”
They also see light through the unending support of their parents, who never gave up on all the hardship that comes with having kids who are visually impaired. So they train harder with every competition, proving that nothing can stop them—and in time, the twins will reach their finish line. That is, to represent the country abroad and win in an international competition.
Asked what they love most about doing triathlon, they go for a simple, “It completes me as a person.” And it rings true—finding your purpose in life, focusing on this certain goal and working with everything you’ve got. But while the sport is their main thing, Jerome and Joshua don't lack in other activities that other teens do. On their spare time, they enjoy music, playing piano and bass guitar, specifically.
There’s nothing like this tandem, and as siblings, their bond is even stronger. Their varying personalities complement the other. “I'm more of a quiet type, a homebody,” Joshua says. Jerome describes himself as, “a talkative person and more passionate on physical activity.” The differences exhibit their individuality, which often deem difficult being known as a pair, but it also encourages them to always look out for each other.
Ultimately, Jerome and Joshua aspire to inspire the youth of today to take up sports. Just because you identify yourself as weak, frail, or wrong-footed, it doesn’t have to hinder you in finding your best potential. Their words of advice? “Believe and you will receive,” Joshua breathes. While Jerome goes for cliché, but effective, “Dream big.”
Watch Jerome and Joshua star in our 18th anniversary campaign #ChalkGen18 as part of this year's Chalk Bright Young Manila:
ALSO READ: #ChalkGen18: Meet The 18 Individuals Of This Year's Chalk Bright Young Manila
Photographed by Stephen Capuchino
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Madel Asuncion
Makeup by Ces Ramirez of Makeup Design Academy
Hair by Sam Corbillon of Triple Luck Brow and Nail Salon
Clothes by Bench