Blind paratriathlete chases dream

Sports

COLORADO SPRINGS — Paratriathlete Kyle Coon has kept pushing along, no matter what obstacles life has thrown at him.

Coon was diagnosed with cancer at just 10 months old. He spent years as a young child fighting.

“I was just that energetic kid that was like I know I’m sick, but can you just hurry up and make me better so I can go outside and play,” Coon said.

At just the age of six, Coon lost his sight in both his eyes.

“That was really hard for a a short time until I fortunate enough to meet Eric Weihenmayer [the first blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest] and he kind of gave me a verbal slap upside the head and was like ‘dude, just because you can’t see doesn’t mean you can’t be a kid and go outside and have fun.'”

From there, Coon let his passion for sports carry him. He even became one of the first full-time competitive blind rock climbers in the United States. In 2015, Coon shifted his focus to triathlons and in 2018 became a serious competitor in the sport. Now, at 29 years old he’s looking to qualify for the sport in the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

“Just because he lacks sight doesn’t me he isn’t an athlete, and he is a great athlete,” Andy Potts, who was a triathlete for Team USA in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, said. Potts is Coon’s guide, helping him navigate swimming, running, and biking.

“He’s really adventurous, likes to get after it,” Potts said of Coon. “[He] likes to get into the hurt locker and really suffer, which gets him to improve and get better and better.”

Coon’s come a long way and hopes to go even further with a chance to qualify for Tokyo.

“We embrace the adversity that we face,” Coon said. “I have a tremendous opportunity to live out a dream and that’s not something everyone can say.”

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