Limb amputation is a life-changing event that signifies long-term physical, social, psychological, and environmental change. And that is exactly what Manny Lobrigo Jr. had to experience, when he lost his left leg in a tragic accident. This is the heart-warming story of how Manny manages to bounce back and achieved more than he could ever dreamed of.
Starting over life as an amputee
As fate would have it, an incident that happened in December 1999 changed Manny Lobrigo Jr.’s life forever. He was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident that led to him losing his left leg.
The 45-year-old Filipino recalled the incident vividly, “I was the pillion rider and my best friend rode the bike. We were hit by a fast-approaching bus in a curve. Unfortunately, my best friend died in the accident.” But Manny was not going to accept the defeat.
Even though he struggles, he challenged himself to stand up again and now, Manny is able to held his head high again, “Now, I can enjoy life again as I don’t allow my disability to dictate and set limitations on what I can do and achieve.”
According to Manny, life after amputation was like a roller coaster ride, “I had to endure not just physical but also emotional, social, mental and psychological struggles.” For some time, Manny had to live a sedentary lifestyle and gained so much weight, up to the point of nearly losing his mobility. “However, I realised that this is not the kind of life that I wanted, so I started soul searching for my own sake.”
A passionate swimmer since he was 17, Manny took to swimming as a refuge and an antidote to wash away the trauma from his painful experience. It proved to be fruitful as he explained that sports had saved him and he succeeded to start over and navigate his life as an amputee.
Initially, what motivated him with the idea of dabbling in sports was his desire to challenge the boundaries. “All the while, the milestones that I have achieved was very fulfilling. I just can’t help asking myself, how far can I go?” The constant curiosity became the reason that drives him forward.
And move forward he did. In 2015, Manny found his calling in triathlon relays. Two years after that, he did an individual triathlon. The following year, in 2018, he attempted his first triathlon sprint distant. In January this year, he competed in his first individual standard distance.
Back then, Manny found out that his peers and old swimming buddies transitioned to triathlon. They encouraged him to join his first relay. To him, the experience was very fulfilling and it was able to provide him with a good life balance.
Manny revealed that at the time, “It just felt right and meaningful. I had so much fun doing triathlons. Feeling strong and breaking the barrier is very liberating that I no longer feel my disability.” Manny shared that he is now focusing on Paratriathlon Sprint Distance discipline.
When he first started, he wanted to race individually and challenge himself with swimming, biking and running.
“I understand that running for above-knee amputees is not easy and would take a great deal of time and engagement to achieve.”
Furthermore, he added that cycling was a big challenge as well as he had to cycle with a prosthesis. “I was determined to get a Running Blade, to be able to assemble cycling prosthesis and to purchase a road bike to realise my goal.”
Currently, Manny is training to become an elite Paratriathlete. “A team of coaches/trainers and I have set up a goal for ourselves to get into the Paratriathlon World Ranking.”
Living with disabilities for more than two decades, Manny said that there are only two ways for a person with disabilities to live. “It’s either to be defeated by our disability or challenge ourselves and get out of this vicious cycle.”
He said that life can be very fulfilling and positive despite many challenges. “You just need to start and become victorious. Appreciate the small improvements and never dwell on setbacks as they will always come, but they are actually part of the challenges.” Manny also stressed that it is important to continue to dream big.