You may not know him by name, but David Brown is nothing short of inspirational. Brown, a legally blind world champion track & field star, earned a gold medal in the Paralympics men’s 100m Tll race Sunday (Sept. 11).
The 23-year-old Missouri native and his guide, Jerome Avery, beat out Brazil’s Felipe Gomes and his guide, Jonas de Lima Silva. Besides adding a to Team USA’s 14 gold medals over the last four days, the victory also marks Brown and Avery’s first time winning Paralympic gold since becoming a team.
Being a T11 athlete means he has the highest level of visual impairment, and like other Paralympians, Brown’s story is one of triumph over circumstance.
At 15 months old, Brown was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease (a rare condition that can result in inflammation of the blood vessels) that resulted in Glaucoma.
By 3 years old Brown had lost his left eye due to surgery, and lost vision in his right eye at age 13.
During his childhood, Brown and his family moved from St. Louis to Kansas City where he attended the Missouri School for The Blind. He tried out wrestling and goal ball before he fell in love with track.
In 2008, Brown won an easy contest that earned him a trip to the Paralympics, which sparked his interest in competing in the games. He landed a spot on the Paralympics Team USA four years later and is regarded as the first completely blind athlete to run the 100 meters in less than 11 seconds.
“Your only limit is what you set for yourself,” Brown said in an interview. “It’s all a mindset.”