At the Texas Relays, one of the nation's most prestigious prep track and field events, a 14-year-old freshman turned heads with her blazing speed in the 400 meters and impressive height in the pole vault. Her name in Charlotte Brown, and it turns out that the most impressive part about her feats isn't that she's only a freshman -- it's that she is legally blind.
As reported artfully by the Dallas Morning News' Matt Wixon, Brown ran the anchor leg of Emory (Texas) Rains High 400-meter relay, and she finished her segment of the race in an impressive 62 seconds. Among her other achievements, Brown counts earning a spot on the school's basketball team, running with the cross country team and, somehow, holding a school record in the pole vault.
She's done all of this by the age of 14, and done it with 20/400 vision in her right eye that she claims is like looking through a blurry coffee stirrer. Remarkably, the vision in her left eye is even worse; she can only see through a tiny pinhole.
How the heck does Brown pull off that panoply of athletic achievements? According to the teenager, through lots and lots of repetition and hardened routines that help her make sure she's always on the right track.
"Fourteen steps to the vault. I just count my strides and I go," Brown told the Morning News. "I know when to put the pole down and jump."
Her routine with basketball was even more involved, and could occasionally create confusion where there was a turnover, which she had no idea had just occurred. Yet Brown still starred on the junior varsity team by guarding the ball handler by listening to the dribbling pattern and lunging in for steals when the opponent would try to cross over her dribble. Somehow she even scored on breakaway layups after some steals.
What next for a thriving freshman who hopes to qualify for the state track and field meet, either this year or another season soon? Possibly the 100-meter hurdles. Seriously.
"If I can count the steps to the hurdles and the hurdles are all the same distance apart," she said, "I could do it."
Based on her success so far, she would probably do a lot more than simply try the hurdles. She might just win.
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