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Colorado Champions: Blind triathletes thrive during Springs camp

Having all five senses is something most people take for grante, but imagine being an athlete without the sense of sight.

Learning a new skill or element but not being able to see, or hear or touch seems pretty challenging. However, this week’s Colorado Champions aren’t letting anything stand in the way of their dreams.

It’s no easy feat for any biker to get up Gold Camp Road, and these blind triathletes must have total faith in their partners during the strenuous climb. But get this: their partner is a stranger they were just recently teamed up with for a Colorado Springs camp.

“We literally met like a couple of nights ago and today we were going down Gold Camp Road and it felt fine, I was really happy,” said Hanna Defelice.

Caroline Condon is from the Springs. She’s a seasoned triathlete, but this marks her first time as a guide.

“I’ve been doing triathlon for about 14 years, so I am pretty experienced in that regard, but doing it in this way is very new for me and it’s probably one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had, I’m absolutely loving it,” said Condon.

Defelice came to the Olympic City from Boston. She was born blind, but has never let that hold her back from her passions.

“To be honest, I’m doing what I love,” said Defelice. “I love triathlon, I’ve been a runner for years and love it. For me it’s just about doing things differently and relying on other people a little more for certain things.”

And to do that, Hannah and other athletes who can’t see must rely heavily on their other sense.

Kevin Brousard with the United States Association of Blind Athletes says communication is key.

“Guide communications is a big piece that we focus on because we live in a very visual world, especially in sports, in particular, when you are coaching somebody up on how to throw a baseball, how to catch a football and things like that where it’s a visual cue by the coach,” said Brousard. “With blind athletes specifically, you have to get very descriptive on the technique and the direction they are going when on the bike.”

Luckily for Condon and Defelice, that connection came naturally. And trust between them grows with each and every stride.

“We both felt comfortable and very confident in each other and just being able to communicate with that today was pretty awesome,” said Condon.

This is the second year that USA Triathlon and the United States Association of Blind Athletes have hosted this camp. They hope to keep it going and foster some of these relationships so the teams can eventually compete in triathlons together.

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