Legally blind runner preparing for run at Paralympic gold - - Columbia, South Carolina

Legally blind runner preparing for run at Paralympic gold


Amy McDonaugh's trophy room is packed with proof that she's seen her fair share of marathons.

But she doesn't see them like most runners. Her eyes were damaged in a surgery when she was in junior high, blinding her in one eye and severely limiting the other.

"It's like looking through a paper towel roll with saran wrap on it, so it's blurry," said McDonaugh. 

But it hasn't put the brakes on her running career. She started 9 years ago and has since completed more than 100 races.

"I just loved it," said McDonaugh. "It felt like I was getting out there, doing something and clearing my head."

She usually competes with a guide who helps her navigate and keep her clear of other runners. Still, every run brings a bit of terror.

"I see a lot of shadows and colors," said McDonaugh. "So I don't know if that's an oil spill or a pothole. You get more used to it, but there's always an element of fear."

It's a fear she's planning to face again later this month when she goes to France to compete in the World Paralympic Championships in the 1,500 meter.

The event won't be easy. McDonaugh is used to marathons and their slower pace. She's also used to running on a road. Tracks, believe it or not, are much harder for her.

"I can see the white line but I'm not exactly sure where it is because it's blurry," said McDonaugh. "If I'm looking down at it, I can't see anything else because I have to look down."

She'll have a guide to help and is working with the group Team Utopia to prepare her for the faster speed.

She hopes her run will help inspire other visually impaired females to make a run at the Paralympics, which only offers long-distance events to men.

"If there are more people who are interested and want to do it, maybe they'll expand the events and maybe add a marathon," said McDonaugh.

She's been given a shot at another medal and another example of what can be done when fear isn't a factor.

"It's not the outside circumstances and stuff that can keep you from doing things, it's what's in your head and in your heart," said McDonaugh. "There's no excuse not to try your best and strive for excellence at whatever you're doing."

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