A young female athlete in the Philippines recently won multiple gold medals for her school during a provincial sports fest despite not having proper running shoes.
Rhea Ballos, an 11-year-old student of Salvacion Elementary School in Balasan, Iloilo, was only wearing bandages around her feet when she competed at the Iloilo Schools Sports Council Meet.
Facebook user Predirick B. Valenzuela posted images of the girl with her feet wrapped in brown plaster bandages bearing the famous Nike swoosh logo. Ballos even wrote the word “NIKE” on the sides of her “shoes” to complete the “Nike running shoes” look.
The bandages were tightly wrapped around her feet, creating a thin protective layer against the track. While she was virtually barefoot during the races, she was still able to defeat her opponents who all wore proper footwear intended for running.
According to the post, Ballos bagged the top awards in the 400-meter dash, the 800-meter run, and the 1500-meter run in the girls’ categories in the inter-school sporting event held in Iloilo, central Philippines.
When images of her makeshift “Nike” footwear went viral, Filipinos on social media showered her with praises for her dedication and character. Many noted that instead of wallowing in self-pity, she was even able to make light of the situation by drawing the Nike logo on her “running shoes.”
Some of the commenters of Valenzuela’s post expressed how the girl deserved to be recognized by Nike and that the brand should actually give her a new pair of real Nike shoes. Others started tagging the American sports brand, as well as local basketball specialty store Titan 22.
It did not take long for Titan co-founder and Alaska Aces head coach Jeffrey Cariaso to take notice of Ballos’ outstanding feat. Cariaso immediately made an effort to get in touch with the young track runner. The seven-time PBA champion has since talked to the student as well as her coaches in an apparent bid to help her out.