Charlotte Brown: Blind pole-vaulter wins bronze medal
Charlotte Brown, who is completely visually impaired since birth, participated in the Texas State High School athletic championships.
Brown, who has been participating with Emory Rains High School, has qualified for the meet every year for the past 3 years. In her sophomore year, 2013, she qualified 8th , and the year after, as a junior, she moved up to 4th.
The American teen, who was born with normal vision, began to develop cataracts, usually associated with old age, by the time she was a mere 16 weeks old. She underwent several corrective surgeries, some of which included the insertion of artificial lenses, and these helped stabilise her vision to a small degree. It deteriorated again by the time she was 11,however, leaving her with pinhole vision – Charlotte can distinguish only what her mother describes as ‘shades of light and dark’, and is unable to make out clear shapes in her surroundings.
She took up pole-vaulting as a pastime, looking for something ‘dangerous’ and ‘exciting’. Accompanied by her service dog, Vador, Charlotte meticulously navigates obstacles in her mind, counting the steps she takes.
Brown excelled in her schoolwork as well. She has been awarded an academic scholarship to Purdue University, and will participate in sport there too. In an interview, she simplified her gargantuan achievement, saying “It was about everybody that struggles with something.”
Charlotte Brown struggled as a youngster with a disability that would leave most adults emotionally crippled, and excelled in a field many able-bodied people do not.