LYNCHBURG, Va. – Imagine this: your entire life you’ve had the ability to see. Then slowly, your vision diminishes, until it’s nothing. That was the reality for Paralympian Antoine Craig.
“I have a retinol disease called retinitis pigmentosa, it’s something genetic where my retinas don’t produce the proteins it needs to fuel itself,” Craig said. “So they’re just slowly dying. I lost the majority of my vision in 2010. I got to experience driving and all of the good stuff, the independence and the freedom and it was all just taken away.”
The loss of vision also impacted his mobility, “You lose your ability to walk, you have to start from scratch, you have to get a cane, and start to go through the process of learning to navigate your environment differently than you did before.”
And after relearning to walk, he decided he could run, “I started with the mile and worked my way up, and ended up with different groups over the years,” Craig said. “People teaching me this, people teaching me that, then you kind of get to this point where you’re running really really fast, tethered to another human being.”
Craig runs with a guide, connected by a short tether.
“Track and field normally is an individual sport, in para it’s a team sport. You’re nothing without your guide. You and your guide is one team. Whatever you do they do and whatever they do you do,” he said.
The Paralympian has only been sprinting for four years, and most recently placed second in the U.S. Paralympic Trials in the 100-meter dash, making him an alternate for Tokyo.
“The trials was an amazing experience, just to have made it that far. It’s one of those things you’re going to keep with you forever.”
Craig also has a YouTube channel to inspire athletes and show what it’s like to be a blind competitor. He isn’t done reaching his goals yet. He wants to finish his masters in Sports Psychology, and compete in the Olympics. Two things he’s sure he can achieve.
“Just be confident in what you want and where you want to go and you’ll get there.”