11-Year-Old Legally Blind Gymnast Aims For the Olympics

Adrianna Kenebrew is a legally blind gymnast who wants to go to the Olympics

Adrianna Kenebrew

Reported by Kacie Whaley

Adrianna Kenebrew thinks of herself as an 11-year-old Olympian-in-training.  With a passion for gymnastics, she moves like a pro as she swings around an uneven bar and makes flipping across her gymnasium look effortless.  If she did not need to wear glasses for every practice and performance, no one would ever know that she is legally blind.

Although Adrianna has been practicing gymnastics for three years, she has congenital glaucoma.  She was diagnosed at just 5 months old and has had to endure over a dozen surgeries.  At three years old, nearsighted and almost completely without peripheral vision, she was declared legally blind, Today.com reported.  Adrianna now wears corrective glasses and sometimes walks with a cane.

“Her vision will never reverse,”  said Kimberly Yen, a pediatric ophthalmologists who provides Adrianna treatment at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital.  “She’s not going to ever become 20/20.  What we want to do is prevent any additional vision loss.”

So, to prevent further damage to her sight, Adrianna undergoes occasional surgeries and must apply three different kind of eye-drops in each eye everyday.  After all of her treatments, her left eye is 20/150 and her right eye is blurrier at 20/400, which would only allow her to identify the E at the top of an eye chart.

Some might think sight would be a significant part of gymnastics, but the Texas-born gymnast does her thing without hardly ever reflecting on her condition.

“Every so often it occurs to me that I can’t see,” the 6th grader told Fox26.

Adrianna’s talent and brave spirit is undeniable to those around her.  She receives high marks on her performances and received the Female Athlete of the Year Award for her region last year.

Her mother, Asha Kenebrew, sees her daughter’s talent and will to succeed as being the result of a positive attitude.  “I think she takes one day, one meet, at a time,” said Ms. Kenebrew.  “She really does not ever say ‘I can’t.'”

Although her physical sight is blurred, her vision for her future is very bright and promising.  She notes Olympic champion Gabby Douglas as her idol and wants a medal of her own one day.  “I want to be the first visually-impaired gymnast to win gold at the Olympics,” said Adrianna.

She added that her inability to see won’t slow her down from reaching her goals, but will actual serve as her motivation.  “I just think of it as my vision making me work harder for what I’m trying to accomplish,” she told Fox26.

Sources: 1, 2


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