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How This Filipino-Born Gymnast Journeyed From an Orphanage to a Gold Medal Win

Christopher Remkes' story is a source of inspiration for us all.
IMAGE INSTAGRAM @chrisremkes1
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Christopher Remkes won the gold for men’s vault at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Filipino native made history by scoring 14.766 and 14.866, ending a 24-year dry spell for Australia.

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Once an orphan, Remkes credited his adoptive parents for his success during his victory speech: “Without my parents I wouldn't be here today, I would probably still be in the orphanage,” he said. “I owe everything to my parents, they gave me so much love and support and drove me around to all the competitions.”

Born in the Philippines, Remkes was left outside a hospital when he was two days old. He was cared for by nuns at a Bacolod orphanage until he was adopted by Adelaide couple Mike and Dora Remkes. “We instantly fell in love with him and we wanted a family. We talked to the nuns at the orphanage and they had never seen him smile or happy and as soon as we took him home to Australia and nothing but smiles and bubbly and full of life,” Remkes’ father told Daily Mail. Remkes grew up with a brother and sister who, like him, were both adopted from the Philippines.

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Remkes started gymnastics at age five. After training in South Australia, he moved to Canberra in order to hone his skills at the National Centre of Excellence. Determined, he moved up through the ranks and earned his first gold medal in 2013. The win allowed him to represent Australia at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival where he was part of the team that was awarded a bronze medal. He then joined the 2014 National Championships, two World Championships, the Melbourne World Cup, and the AGF Trophy.

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Standing at 4 feet and 8 inches, 21-year-old Remkes says his stature is now a source of pride. "My height is almost like a super power, I'm lucky to have the build I have, it means I can go fast in the air," he said. Remkes is one of Australia’s promising Olympic hopefuls for Tokyo 2020.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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