Flying Blind

May 26, 2014

A junior at Rains High in Emory, Texas, Charlotte Brown became the first-known legally blind athlete to compete at the state track and field meet last year. Last week she returned, clearing 11'0" (her best is 11'6") to finish fourth in Class 3A. Born with normal vision, Charlotte developed infant cataracts, which required multiple surgeries and left her unable to distinguish colors or shapes or to judge distance. She can't see the box where she plants the pole, the bar or even the landing pit, but by counting her steps and using a high-frequency beeping device that alerts her when she's near the box, she makes the leap of faith over and over again. "Part of what makes me the pole vaulter I am is that I'm not scared, because I can't see how high the bar is or how small the box is," Charlotte says. "I think our fears are illusions, they're not really real. We just think they are."

PHOTOERIC GAY/AP (BROWN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)