(TMU) — An 11-year-old athlete in the Philippines has become the pride of her nation after she won multiple gold medals in a sports competition despite her lack of decent running shoes.
Rhea Ballos of Salvacion Elementary School in Balasan, Iloilo, won the three gold medals while only wearing bandages around her feet during the competition. In a stroke of ingenuity, the makeshift footwear sported the trademark Nike swoosh on them in photos shared by her trainer, Predirick B. Valenzuela.
New design of spike shoesMade in PhilippinesNIKECongratulations RHEA BULLOS of Balasan 3GOLDS400m dash ELem Girls800m run Elem Girls1500m run Elem Girls
According to Valenzuela’s post, Ballos managed to win the top award in the 400-meter dash, 800-meter run, and 1500-meter run in the elementary school girls competition at the Iloilo School Sports Council Meet.
Ballos competed virtually barefoot, with her “shoes” only made of the brown plaster bandages, Valenzuela told local GMA News Online. The thin protective layer still was sufficient for her to better her competition, who were all clad in proper footwear.
Netizens in the Philippines were quickly moved by the Balasan runners’ multiple victories, with many social media users tagging the U.S. sports brand and local sports supplies stores like basketball specialty store Titan 22.
Jeffrey Cariaso, the co-founder of Titan and a head coach of the Philippines’ Alaska Aces professional basketball team, also met with the young athlete to show his appreciation for the up-and-comer.
— Jeff Cariaso (@thejet_22) December 10, 2019
In numerous comments, Filipinos praised the dedication and drive of Ballos, calling her a role model for the country’s youth. Others demanded that Nike sponsor the young runner, while some commenters even requested Ballos’ address and shoe size so that they could personally buy her a new pair of sneakers.
One user aptly said:
“Keep dreams burning and hold on to those dreams!”
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