Famous Athletes with Hearing Loss

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With the 2018 Winter Olympics on the not-so-distant horizon, it’s time to buff up on your athlete stats. Who is favored to win? Who will beat the odds? And most importantly to Associated Audiologists—who has beat hearing loss? It’s a surprising number of athletes over the ages, each with a unique and empowering story.

Their stories prove that hearing loss won’t impede your dreams. Today we’re partnering with Hearlink, to share the success stories of athletes who did not let hearing loss stand in the way of success. Let’s get started.

Terence Parkin- Terence Parkin is a South African swimmer who shocked the world in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He won the silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke race, but that’s not the only challenge that he’s bested. Parkin has almost 100% hearing loss and communicates in sign language with his coach. Parkin also leverages strobe light signals in the pool, which indicate when to start his race.

Chris Colwill- Chris Colwill is a US Diver. Colwill was born with 60% hearing loss in both his ears. His hearing loss didn’t stop him from becoming a championship diver, but the sport is not ideal for hearing aids. Colwill cannot wear his hearing aid when diving, instead he looks to the scoreboard for his prompt to begin.

Tamika Catchings- Tamika Catchings is a US basketball player who overcame hearing loss in both ears as well as a speech impediment. As a young child, she was bullied due to her hearing loss. This prompted her to throw away her hearing aid. Her parents taught her a valuable lesson by refusing to buy her a new one. Lessons like this one prompted her to grow up strong and talented, even winning WNBA MVP in 2011. Catchings has won gold medals in the last three summer Olympics.

David Smith- David Smith is a US Volleyball player who was diagnosed with 80-90% hearing loss. Because of this, he has worn hearing aids since the age of three. Still, he made an impactful debut at the London Olympics in 2012. What’s David’s secret? He relies on lip-reading when communicating with his teammates. He says that this has strengthened his relationships with his team and made him a stronger athlete.

Frank Bartolillo- Frank Bartolillo is an Australian fencer, and a role model for athletes impacted by hearing loss. He topped the competition at the 2004 Athens Olympics, claiming that his hearing loss worked to his advantage. He’s been quoted as saying that he could concentrate on the match at a much better level without his hearing.

Jeff Float- Jeff Float is a US swimmer that specializes in the 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay. He made history when he became the first deaf swimmer to win the gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The roar when he won was so loud that he’s been quoted as saying, “It was the first time I remember distinctively hearing loud cheers at a meet.”

If you have questions about hearing loss, don’t hesitate to reach out to Associated Audiologists. And be sure to check out Hearlink’s site for more information about audiology.