There are two main things that are really important to me. The first is self-determination – empowering students to make decisions about their own lives. The second part is technology because, as a visually impaired person, I can say that without technology, I wouldn`t have two master`s degrees. It is such a gateway to communication, education and independence. When I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Stargardt`s disease and poor eyesight. I remember how the expectations around me had just fallen. As if everything I did was fine. I felt it from my parents and teachers. It made me angry. And I took that and flipped it over and I became this kind of very competitive person, “I`m going to show you what I can do.” No one ever thought I would make an Olympic team! Runyan, a world-class runner, finished the New York City Marathon as the best American woman with the second-fastest time in her debut by a woman. She finished fifth at the 2003 Boston Marathon; Seventh at the Chicago Marathon in 2004 and first place at the Twin Cities Marathon in 2006. Runyan`s other awards include: three-time national outdoor track and field champion (2001-2003); three-time 5K national road champion (2002-2004); and several American records for various running events.
In honour of the upcoming Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, we have compiled a list of five of the most well-known visually impaired athletes and their stories. Runyan was born on January 4, 1969 in Santa Maria, California, and is the second child of Valerie and Gary Runyan. At the age of nine, Runyan developed Stargardt`s disease, a form of macular degeneration that legally blinded her. However, she retained her peripheral vision and was able to recognize shapes and shadows. His mother found his textbooks in large print and worked with the Lions Club to get a closed television. Legally blind since childhood, track and field athlete and marathon runner Marla Runyan never let her vision loss get in the way of her athletic dreams. Marla Lee Runyan (born January 4, 1969) is an American sprinter. She is a three-time national champion in the women`s 5000 metres. Marla Runyan A blind marathon runner, Marla Runyan won three national championships in the women`s 5,000 metres. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, she finished eighth in the 1,500 metres. In 2001, she won the first of her three consecutive national championships in the 5000 metres. She also published her autobiography “No Finish Line: My Life As I See It” in 2002, she added the 5K and 10K championships and married her coach Matt Lonergan.
“I never said I wanted to be the first blind runner to compete in the Olympics. I just wanted to be an Olympian,” Runyan said after her win. “I think my vision is just a circumstance that happened, and I don`t see it as an obstacle.” As Robert Hensel once said, always inspiring, “I choose not to put a `dis` in my abilities.” As an organization that employs dozens of blind and visually impaired people, we find that this type of positivity isn`t just represented by those in the spotlight – it`s one we see every day among our colleagues here at IB Milwaukee.v. Unfortunately, Runyan`s eyesight continued to deteriorate year after year. However, she didn`t let that affect her career. In 2001, she wrote and published her autobiography No Finish Line: My Life As I See It. In 2002, she married coach Matt Lonergan, with whom she had a daughter in 2005. Although Runyan hoped to make the 2008 Olympic team, back problems and surgery prevented him from doing so. Instead, she earned a second master`s degree in 2012 and began teaching blind people in Oregon schools.
Her third-place finish in the women`s Olympic 1,500m qualification on Sunday made her the first blind athlete to qualify for a U.S. Olympic team in a sport. Other notable blind and visually impaired athletes include climber Steve Bate, goalball player Lisa Banta, judo gold medalist Anthony Clarke, golfer Zohar Sharon, marathon runner Henry Wanyoike and swimmer Chris Holmes, to name a few. Trischa Zorn Paralympic Hall of Fame swimmer Trischa Zorn is an American swimmer who has been blind since birth. She won 55 medals (41 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze), making her the most successful athlete in Paralympic history. Her world-class running career began in 1999 at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, where she won gold in the 1,500 metres and was ranked second in the United States by Track and Field News in 1999. At the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, she finished eighth in the 1,500 metres, making Runyan the first blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. Runyan, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, has been attending railroad events since he was young. In 1992, she competed at the 1992 Paralympic Games, competing on an equal footing with athletes with disabilities, and won the 100, 200, 400 and long jump, and won the pentathlon at the 1996 Paralympic Games.
She tried her hand at the 1996 Olympics, but failed to qualify and finished 10th in the heptathlon. Regina Jacobs was first in 4:01:01, her fourth Olympic team. Suzy Favor-Hamilton, who has been dealing with her brother`s suicide and major Achilles tendon surgery for 18 months, was second in 4:01.81. Craig MacFarlane Craig MacFarlane lost his sight at the age of 2 1/2 in a sweat accident. His athletic instincts set in early and at the age of eight, he won his first wrestling tournament. Inspired by this achievement, Craig competed in a variety of sports, winning 103 gold medals in wrestling, track and field, swimming, skiing, water skiing and golf. Erik Weihenmayer On May 25, 2001, Weihenmayer became the first blind man to reach the summit of Mount Everest, a feat featured in Time magazine and covered in his autobiography Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man`s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See. Erik maintains an active lifestyle as an acrobatic skydiver, long-distance cyclist, marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber and climber.
Marla Runyan is an American athlete, road runner and marathon runner who is the first blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. She is a three-time national champion in the women`s 5000 metres. At the 1992 Summer Paralympics, she won four gold medals in the long jump, 100, 200 and 400 metres. At the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials, she attempted to qualify for the Olympics and finished 10th in the heptathlon. Although she failed to qualify, she ran the 800 meters in 2:04.60, an American record in the 800 meters in the heptathlon. This success convinced her to try long-distance running.