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Original Issue

Raising the Bar

Two years ago pole vaulter Charlotte Brown became the first legally blind high school athlete to compete at the Texas state track and field meet. Last year she made news as the first to place, finishing fourth by clearing 11 feet (SI, May 26, 2014). A senior at Rains High in Emory, Charlotte has now become the first blind athlete to reach the podium and earn a medal, finishing third in Class 4A last Saturday with a vault of 11'6", which matched her personal best. Born with functioning vision, Charlotte developed cataracts in infancy that rendered her unable to judge distance or to distinguish colors or shapes. She competes by counting her steps and using a beeping device that alerts her when she's near the box. Next fall Charlotte and her service dog, Vador, will head off to Purdue, where she hopes to walk on to the track team. "This story really wasn't about me," she said after the meet. "It was about everybody who struggles with something."