BYU-Idaho student headed to Tokyo to compete in Paralympics
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REXBURG — A legally blind 20-year-old Brigham Young University-Idaho student is headed to this summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo after years of training in track and field.
“I wanted to run track for Team USA,” Taylor Talbot said. “I’ve been working really hard since high school and then to finally have that dream pay off, it’s just amazing.”
Talbot is from Oregon and has been studying exercise science and music at BYU-Idaho. She developed a passion for track when she was just a kid. Her parents met on a college track team.
“I pretty much just grew up on the track,” she said.
This is the first time Talbot will compete in the Paralympics and the first time she’ll be traveling to Tokyo.
“I’ve always wanted to travel and I like trying new things so it’s super exciting. I like to meet new people and be with my teammates,” she said.
The Paralympics is a series of international contests for athletes with disabilities that are held after the summer and winter Olympics. The Paralympics offers opportunities for athletes with physical, vision and intellectual impairments. In Talbot’s case, she is visually impaired but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she loves.
Talbot was born with a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. According to the National Eye Institute, retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Common symptoms include difficulty seeing at night and a loss of side (peripheral) vision.
“I have a really small pinhole of central vision. So it’s like looking through a drinking straw. It’s tunnel vision and it’s also really blurry. I’m a little color blind as well. I have about a 5 percent visual field in my left eye. I actually just kind of lost my right eye (vision) this last year. When I look through that, it’s just a little bit of white and that’s it, so really I don’t use my right eye, it’s just my left. What most people can see at 300 feet, I have to be at 20 feet to see it,” she said.
Talbot says when she is running on the track, she is lucky. She explained that the white lines that create lanes on the track, help guide her in the right place. She looks at the line on the track and she sees it with her left eye and follows that the entire time she is running.
She currently runs on her own and does not have a guide that helps her. Eventually, she says she will need a guide to tell her where she needs to go.
“I can’t see the finish line, I can’t see my competitors and when I am down at the starting block, I can only see the color of the track. I can’t see my own hands, I can’t see my feet, and then when I come up, I look for that line,” she said.
So how did Talbot get to this point and qualify to run in the Paralympics? Talbot says she started getting recognized in track and eventually represented team USA at the 2019 Paralympic Jr. World Championships in Switzerland. She took home the bronze medal in the 400-meter race.
“Doing something that you love is really important,” she said.
At the Paralympics, Talbot will be competing in the 100-meter and 400-meter races.
The Paralympics will be streamed on NBC from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
“I would really advise people to watch the Paralympics this year because there are a lot of amazing athletes that are going to be competing and performing. They are just awesome to watch. I think the world needs to see these athletes,” Talbot said.
Click here to learn more about the Paralympics.