Amputee swimmer competes in Palaro 2013

Jomar Maalam is a 16-year-old swimmer from Zamboanga del Sur who was born without legs. He competes in Palarong Pambansa 2013.

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – Excitement builds up as Palarong Pambansa 2013 is set to kick-off in two days.

The games are filled with many inspiring stories like this one from a young swimmer in Zamboanga del Sur. 
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

Jomar Maalam is a 16-year-old swimmer from Zamboanga del Sur.

He learned to swim living by sea all his life surrounded by fishermen.

Like his teammates he is excited, but nervous for Palarong Pambansa, the country’s largest sporting event.

But Jomar is also different from the rest of the swimmers of Region 9.

He has no legs.

DENNIS BUCO, COACH OF AMPUTEE SWIMMER: Kahit ano, kahit pagod na siya, kinakayanan niya kasi gusto niya talaga manalo. interesado talaga siya. 

(Even if he’s tired, he still goes on because he really wants to win. He’s invested.)

It is the first time in history Region 9 is sending an amputee swimmer to Palaro.

Jomar has been training for a year, and competes with other regular swimmers in his home region.

This is the first time he will swim against other disabled athletes.

Jomar is unfazed by people who make fun of his disability.

JOMAR MAALAM, AMPUTEE SWIMMER: It’s okay with me when they make fun of me. I don’t care about other people because this is what God gave me.

Two days before the games begin, Jomar is one of thousands of athletes preparing for Palaro.

Organizers put together last minute preparations. The event gathers the country’s best student athletes.

Jomar says training is hard. But he is determined to win a gold and make his parents and 9 siblings proud.

He and his coach Dennis dream of bigger things, like competing in the Asian Games.

Palaro is just the first step.

Stories like Jomar’s make Palarong Pambansa the inspirational event it is. Tales of struggle and determination take center stage this coming week, highlighting the resilience of the Filipino athlete. Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Dumaguete –

For more on Palarong Pambansa, visit Rappler’s Palarong Pambansa 2013 microsite.

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