Summarized by Eileen Bell
Blind LDS Athletes Set For Paralympics
Salt Lake Tribune 12Jul00 S2
By Jim Halley: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- This article profiles two talented young Utah
athletes who overcome their lack of eyesight as they continually
improve their running skills. Blaine Shelton of Layton has received
his call to serve in the Alabama Birmingham beginning in October.
But before that, both he and pal Trent Blair of West Valley City will
be competing at high levels.
Trent Blair is legally blind, but will join the U.S. Paralympic
team in Sydney, Australia, this summer. He's considered
to have a chance to medal in the 200 and 400 meter runs.
In Junior High, Trent played football and swam. Besides
his ability for running, he also did well in the long jump.
His vision is considered "B-3". Even with glasses and a lens
implant, his vision is blurry. The lines on the track cause him
difficulty when he is cornering. Despite his eye troubles,
Trent says transportation in Orem now is one of his biggest
headaches. "I used to ride my bike all the time at home but I don't
have my bike. My mom doesn't really like the idea of me riding it
around here because she says all the college students here
don't know how to drive. So I have to take the bus to practice, which
has been a pain in the butt. I leave at 5 p.m. to walk to the bus
stop, get to practice by 6 p.m. and get home by bus at 8:30 p.m. That
means I'm gone for 3 1/2 hours for only 1 1/2 hours of training."
Blaine Shelton's barriers involve having to use a guide runner to help
him along his cross country courses. While many are willing, not
many can keep up with him. His corrected vision is classed as
"B-2", which is less than 20/600.
"I was planning to run in the Salt Lake City Classic 5K [in 1999]
when I lost my guide runner. A reporter from the Standard-Examiner
was willing to guide for me. He said he ran and played soccer three
times a week, so I figured he was in pretty good shape. We went
through the mile marker at 8 minutes and he was dying. He stayed
with me through a mile and a half and then I just asked him which
way to go. He told me to take a left and then go straight. I
ended up running the race in 20:49."
On July 21st, Blaine will run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field
trials. His guide there will be Wade Council. "I haven't told my
coach, but I intend to lose Wade with about 200 meters to go"
(in the 800, which he hopes to win in record time.) "We're going
to have 15,000 people on their feet. They are expecting this race but
they are not expecting to get what they're going to get, a time
under two minutes."
They are both coached by John Kernan of Pleasant Grove. "Most of
the time, I have to keep them from doing too much of the wrong kind
of training. Because they both run in school, I have to make sure I
augment what their other coaches do and not countermand it. That's
tough and because of the different seasons they have, it's hard getting
them to peak when they need it most." Speaking of Trent, "I believe
that Trent has the ability to break the world record in B-3 in 400 meters
and the 200 meters as well as medal in the 100."
And Kernan says Blaine's mission will be great. "When Blaine comes
back, he'll be a man. He'll come back a lot stronger and his perspective
and outlook will be different. He's already more mature for his age.
Blaine is driven and has very specific goals."