Los Angeles (AFP) - A blind student trained with a top college American football team for the first time on Tuesday after receiving a waiver from authorities to practice with the squad.
Jake Olson, a long-snapper who lost his eyesight due to cancer in childhood, trained with the University of Southern California Trojans after enrolling on a scholarship for physically challenged athletes.
He was made to wait to receive an exemption from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to ensure the Trojans did not exceed their 25-scholarship limit for the year.
Long-snappers typically have the task of snapping the football back 7 to 15 yards (6.5 to 14 meters) to a holder or kicker for field goals or punts.
Olson told the USC website he was hoping he could one day snap in a game for the Trojans, one of the powerhouses of college football.
"I'm excited to help this team in any way I can and be a great teammate. I love this team and I always have, and now it feels great to be a part of it," said Olson, who was encouraged to pursue the sport as a 12-year-old during a meeting with former Trojans coach Peter Carroll, now the coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
Olson, who uses teammates to line up snaps properly and then handles snaps himself, received support from Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler.
"He doesn't use an excuse," Kessler said.
"We don't think anything different about him. He puts his pads on the same way. He works out the same way. He comes out here and practices just as hard as anyone else."