Winning changes everything.
That’s what happened to Jermyn Prado shortly after bagging the gold medal in the women’s individual time trial event of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA)Games last week.
Prado made her SEA Games debut in style after clocking 44 minutes and 44.742 seconds to outshine Lou Yiwei of Singapore and Phetdarin Somrat of Thailand, who settled for the silver and bronze medals after submitting a time of 44:48.518 and 44:58.152, respectively.
A couple of days later, she was back in the medal podium after emerging as bridesmaid to a Vietnamese sprinter in Thi That Nguyen in the women’s individual road race.
The battle was so close that both of them tallied an identical 3:25:57, prompting the officials to judge based on the photo finish.
“She was a good sprinter,” said Prado, referring to her seasoned competitor, who is one of the few Southeast Asians campaigning in an elite Belgium-based club in Europe.
“I was not a good sprinter, but I still pushed myself to the limit. I tried to beat her in the uphill stage, but she recovered in the flat land in the final stretch. But it was still a good race. I’m still satisfied with my performance,” Prado said.
But the grueling battle in the SEA Games is nothing compared to what she overcame in a race called life.
Prado’s story is a tale of an underdog.
She came from a poor family in Pagbilao, Quezon and had to make ends meet by working as a welder at the nearby Hopewell Power Station.
In between, she would bike from their house to the Quezon National Park — or famously known as Tatlong Eme — where she developed her climbing skills.
“I only used to bike as a mode of transportation,” said Prado, who is fondly called “Champorado” by her peers.
“Little did I know that because I had to take bike going to school, I was already developing my riding skills. With that, I entered Philippine Navy and landed a spot in the national cycling team.”
In her first SEA Games stint, Prado wasted no time in making her presence felt.
She grabbed the gold medal in the women’s individual time trial and clinched the silver medal in the women’s road race event. Now, she stands to receive around P500,000 cash incentives from the Philippine Sports Commission on top of other bonuses pledged by President Rodrigo Duterte, congressmen, senators and the Philippine Olympic Committee, which is expected to breach the P1-milion barrier.
Suddenly, the girl who used to weld at a power plant to put something on the table and ride bike going to school is now a millionaire.
But becoming an overnight sensation isn’t something Prado wishes.
Away from the bright lights of the medal podium and media attention, Prado is a mom who wants nothing but the best for her daughter, Princess Jaydee.
“She is the one who motivates me to do better every day,” Prado said.
“In every action that I do, I always make sure that it will be for her and for her future.”
Prado said she doesn’t want her daughter to follow her path.
“She can try other sports, but not cycling,” she said with a chuckle. “I knew that this sport requires a lot of hard work and pressure. You really have to be at your best to excel. This is not easy.”
“Without my daughter fueling my passion, I would not be able to do this for the people who trust me.”
Still, with fame and glory next to her name – and cold cash on her bank account — anything is now possible for Prado and her daughter. The world is in their hands.
Yes, winning changes everything.
And Prado presents a perfect underdog story.