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Manila, Philippines

Arnold Balais proves disability is not an obstacle to success

Photo courtesy of PJ Garcia Open Water Challenge

47-year old modern hero and paralympic athlete, Arnold Balais, once again proved that being an amputee is not an obstacle to success.

In the recent PJ Garcia Swiming Challenge in Pinamungajan, southwest Cebu, which took place last June 5, 2021, Arnold Balais dominated the para-swimming category.

Arnold Balais, among the 43 swimmers of Talisay Luigi Triathlon Group (TLTG) - Go For Gold Philippines who joined the competition, bagged the first prize in the 2k race para-swimming category alongside Alex Silverio.

Pinamungahan’s first major open-water swimming competition marked the event to jumpstart sports activities in the southwest Cebu province, and revive the tourism industry, over a year after the Covid-19 pandemic halted sports activities across the nation. The event featured three swimming categories — 3-kilometer and 2-kilometer distances with different age groups, and the para-swimming category — for athletes with disabilities.

Photo courtesy of Arnold Balais

Arnold Balais is known for his positive disposition and courage to take on any hurdle challenging his endeavors, despite having his right leg amputated at an early age caused by chronic osteomyelitis. Balais infers that disabilities and adversities are never a barrier to success, for trust in oneself, supplemented with enough hard work and sacrifice, are key to attain our goals.

True to his mission, Balais remains committed to helping other people with disabilities as a vocational coordinator, orthotic and prosthetic technician, and team captain of the Philippines Accessible Disability Service (PADS) Dragonboat Team — a cross-disability adaptive team.

The PADS Dragon Boat Team, lead by Balais, have brought honor to the country numerous times, as they bring home medals from multiple local and international competitions, including the 1st Naga Invitational Dragon Boat Race, Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in 2018, and the 14th IDBF World Dragonboat Racing Championship — where the team made history as the first world Para-Dragon boat champion.

Among his other individual notable achievements include bagging the gold for bench press powerlifting in the 10th Malaysian Paralympics in 2002, winning silver and bronze medals for the 100-meter butterfly and freestyle relay swimming events at the 4th ASEAN Paralympic Games in Thailand in 2008, and being the first amputee to successfully reach the peak of Mt. Apo — the country’s highest mountain.


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