Guest Blog by former Commonwealth Games competitor Selina Litt. Find her blog page Insight Out here
There’s no way of sugar coating it, losing your sight is tough. It’s not fair. You ask ‘why me’?! I have a rare genetic eye condition called Norrie’s Disease, which is only meant to affect males, but guess what I defied the odds and was the first female in the world to be diagnosed with the condition. Lucky me!
In a sense I am lucky though. I am glad that I had the opportunity to see. It has nearly been ten years since I have had just light perception in my left eye, yet my visual memory still thrives to this day.
As in any difficult situation we have to improvise, adapt and find a way to ease the problem. For me, sport has played a massive role in my acceptance of sight loss. People must think I’m crazy when I say ‘I’m ok with being blind’. It is the truth. Yes I have days where having some sight would be useful, but what’s the point of life if we aren’t challenged from time to time?
Going blind has given me a drive that I never would have discovered if I was still sighted. Growing up in a sporty family enabled me to enjoy sport from a young age despite never being naturally talented. Cross country running, netball, football, tennis, I did it all.
After watching the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games I was inspired. Something sparked in me, I knew I wanted to be an elite athlete. I got myself a guide runner, joined an athletics club and aspired to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
I didn’t make London 2012, but by that stage I had reached a reasonable level and was given the opportunity to compete at the Paralympic Test event where I raced the best in the world on the actual Olympic track. The experience gave me more determination than ever to succeed. The girls were no different to me, they were blind too. If they could be world class athletes, so could I.
So, I dedicated my life to athletics. I had a focus. No longer did I worry about the struggles of my sight loss, I was too busy trying to be the best I could be.
The hard work paid off and in 2014 I was selected to represent England at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the T11/12 100m. I placed fifth at my first Major Championships. It was amazing to sprint in front of forty-four thousand people. Now I have had a taste of what it is like competing on the big stage, there’s no doubt that I want to do it again. My next aim is the European Championships in 2018.
Admittedly, when I took up athletics I didn’t realise it would be the solution to dealing with my sight loss. However, I have learnt that having distractions and goals are the key to enjoying what life throws at us.
You don’t have to dream of being an elite athlete to participate in sport. It welcomes everyone with open arms. Give it a go and see if it helps you to forget about your sight loss too.