Some people are born fighters. When a challenge comes their way, they tackle it head on. And that’s just what these U.S. Olympic athletes do. Not only have they risen to the top of their game, but they’ve done it despite their everyday struggles with hearing loss.
David Smith plays for the U.S. Men’s Volleyball team. He’s put in the extra work to excel in spite of his hearing challenges. Even his teammates have adapted by creating “the David Smith rule.” It states that “whenever David’s going for the ball and he can’t see you, just stay out of his way.”
Chris Colwill dives in the 3-meter springboard competition, but he was also born with 60% hearing loss. Although he has to rely on the scoreboard to know when his turn’s up, his hearing loss actually helps him by blocking out the crowd and allowing him to focus on the task at hand.
Tamika Catchings is a forward for the WBNA Indiana Fever and has already won two Olympic gold medals. She was born with hearing loss in both ears, but, instead of letting it defeat her, she developed a strong work ethic. She sat in the front row of class, read ahead in textbooks and stayed after class to talk with her teachers. And she brings that same work ethic to her skills on the court.
Hearing-impaired Olympians have gone on to do other great things too. Jim Ryun, who attended three separate Olympics in the 1960s and ‘70s, lost half of his hearing when he was only five years old, but he didn’t stop achieving after his career in sports. He served as a U.S. congressman from 1996 to 2007. During his time in office, he introduced the Hearing Aid Tax Credit to Congress, which proposed to help those with hearing impairments afford the technology they need.
Life doesn’t end with hearing loss. In fact, these athletes prove that it might be just the motivation some people need to push them toward success.