WATCH: Blind athlete clinches gold at Palarong Pambansa 2017 long jump

JP Punzalan
WATCH: Blind athlete clinches gold at Palarong Pambansa 2017 long jump
After 4 years in competing in Palarong Pambansa, Cherry Lade Quimba of Bukidnon finally gets the much-coveted gold medal

ANTIQUE, Philippines – As she was about to take her final jump, Cherry Lade Quimba of Quezon, Bukidnon thought the game was over. At that time, she knew she was not going to make it to the cut. Her first two jumps were relatively low enough to keep her out of the top three.

Today, she snatched the gold medal in the long jump category of elementary girls athletics after registering a 1.83-meter mark in the said sport. It was a “lucky shot” as called by one of the officials, especially because Cherry is totally blind.

The Palarong Pambansa takes pride as one of the most inclusive sporting events in the country. While mainly catering to elementary and high school students, it also gives an avenue for persons with disabilities (PWD) to represent themselves and prove that they, too, can compete with the best athletes of this country.

For students like Cherry, being disabled is not a problem. It is a challenge and a possibility to see things in a greater perspective.

Road to success

Cherry was not born blind. According to her coach Madelyn Ginete, something happened when she was young that caused her existing condition.

“Based from her mother’s story, when Cherry was 6 months old, she acquired measles. That’s probably one of the reasons why she got blind,” Ginete said in Filipino.

She became totally blind when she was 6 months old. But her disability didn’t stop her from becoming a gold medalist in Palarong Pambansa. 

It was Ginete who discovered Cherry as a potential athlete to represent her school, Quezon Central Elementary School. 

“Since she first started schooling, she was already my student and athlete at the same time,” she said. “She’s like my own daughter already.”

Soon after, she started representing the school for various athletic events, most notably representing her school and Northern Mindanao at the Palarong Pambansa for 4 times.

First gold

The road to this year’s games was not easy. Her training regimen included stretching, as well as simulations and drills of long jump and jogging. 

“There were times when my feet start to hurt, making me unable to perform well,” Cherry said in Filipino. 

Finally, after 4 years of hard work and competition, Cherry clinched her first gold at the Palaro.

“I told her to listen intently to the required height of her opponents in long jump so that she could give everything that she need to win,” Ginete said in Filipino.

Proving critics wrong

There were times when Cherry wanted to stop what she was doing. Her discouragement is mostly propelled by people who talk a lot about the athlete.

“When they hear something from their neighbors or from their colleagues in school, that’s inevitable. Sometimes, people would discourage them for joining activities such as this. If people who can see and move can’t land a job, how much more for them,” she recalled in a mix of English and Filipino.

But Ginete motivates Cherry every time to do her best to prove her critics wrong.

“That’s what I always tell them – that they need to show their critics that despite their disability, they can compete with others who are normal,” she added.

Big help on family

Financial problems is a big challenge Cherry. Her father is a habal-habal driver while her mother is a housewife, taking care of her 3 children.

“When Cherry doesn’t want to join games anymore, I encourage her to join because I know she can bring home money for her family, win or lose because there’s an allowance for them,” Ginete told Rappler.

She added: “That’s a big help for them.”

When asked what she would say to future athletes, Cherry told them to practice and instill discipline.

“If someone competes for the first time in Palaro, discipline is needed. Listen to your coach. Don’t be hard-headed, and do well during training,” Cherry said.

Ginete gave the same sentiments, saying that discipline along with determination are the most important things in joining a competition.

“They have to believe in themselves that they can do it.” –

READ: Palarong Pambansa 2017 stories by campus journalists

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.