Cielo Honasan has Beckwith-Widemann Syndrome and is an amazing athlete. She’s been running since she was little. She never let her disability slow her down. Read on to learn more about this incredible young athlete or follow the original story published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Many people dream of being a professional athlete. The fame. Fortune. Success. To be counted a legend under those bright lights week after week. For most of us, it’s just a dream. The odds are incredibly low. For those born with disability, the thought might not even enter the mind. There are so many other struggles. Just getting through a regular day can be a challenge.
Sometimes this adversity is exactly what leads to greatness. Such is the case with the new star of the 2017 Asean Para Games, Cielo Honasan.
Honasan’s difficulties began within her first seconds. She was born with gastroschisis. Some of her internal organs were external. Immediate surgery was needed. If that wasn’t enough for a newborn, Honasan was then diagnosed with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. In her case, it meant that one side of her body experienced overgrowth. The right side of her body grew longer than the left. To read more about gastroschisis, click here. To read more about Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, click here.
Experiencing this difficulty from birth, Honasan learned to adapt. It wasn’t easy, but she learned to overcome the physical pain. She adjusted to her body, and began walking with a limp. Of course, that wasn’t the only discomfort she faced. Other children soon began making fun of her.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been teased because of my disability,” Honasan says.
Sometimes she cried. Other times she just ignored it. It happened every day.
As time passed, Honasan learned to walk, and eventually run, with her left foot on tiptoe. The new balance made her limp less obvious. It did not, however, stop the bullying. Feeling like she had something to prove, Honasan joined an athletics tryout at her school. She was just 10 years old. Coaches were surprised at how quick she was. Honasan was a real competitor. She was fast, even against athletes without disability.
The hurt Honasan experienced became motivation.
“Every time I remember those times that people looked down on me, that pushed me. That helped me develop.”
Starting locally, Honasan began dominating track meets. She became a force to be reckoned with in her regional division. She continued to excel at qualifiers. Her performance at these events enabled her to compete at the Palarong Pambansa. This annual event gathered all the top student-athletes from across the Philippines.
Stardom did not yet reach Honasan though. She didn’t take any top marks at the Palarong Pambansa. She did, however, make a lasting impression. Honasan managed to keep pace with some the nation’s top competitors. She accomplished all this at an event for able-bodied athletes. Coaches immediately endorsed her to compete in the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled Athletes (Philspada). Here, Honasan would have a chance to represent her country, herself, and her condition on an international scale.
In September, Honasan competed in the 2017 Asean Para Games. Her first international competition pitted Honasan against the best athletes in Southeast Asia. There she would face the defending champion, Nguyen Thu Thuy of Vietnam, in the 100 meter, and 200 meter dash. Honasan took gold in both events. She would even take a third gold in the 400 meter contest. Honasan’s times in these races are remarkable. They qualify her for both the Asian Para Games, and the Paralympics.
Honasan cried again after her race. This time she cried tears of joy. While many of us would be content to reap the rewards of stardom, Honasan sees this as an opportunity. She gets to talk in front of huge crowds, and inspire fellow athletes. She tells all of them, and continues to stand for, how she turned her disability into strength.