Local News

Raleigh Judo student overcomes blindness to compete in Paralympics

Posted January 10, 2016 9:25 a.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2016 5:39 a.m. EST

— A Raleigh student is taking a major step toward a lifelong, Olympic dream.

Liana Mutia is a typical 17-year-old student who enjoys Judo. She has one more challenge, though, than most athletes to reach her goal and become part of Team USA – she's legally blind.

Despite that, her skills have gotten her accepted into the Olympic training Center in Colorado.

“I’m usually pretty confused," Mutia said. "I try not to look confused, but I am.

“The only thing that I can usually find is maybe their hands, and from there I have to find their shoulders and their head. Usually I’m guessing.”

Part of every Olympiad is a second sporting event at the same location called the Paralympic games. The games are designed for elite athletes with a range physical disabilities.

Because of her nearsightedness, or myopia, and an astigmatism, Mutia has been losing her eyesight for the last three years. Her diagnosis came as a surprise to her, her Judo coach and her training partner.

“(Mutia) works hard," said Tim McNamara, Mutia's training partner. "She shows up and trains until she’s exhausted and doesn’t make excuses.”

Now, Mutia's coach modifies her workouts to keep her on track for 2020. They even place rings on the floor to keep her from falling off the mat.

With the help of her coach and McNamara, Mutia said anything is possible.

“I’m really surprised that people believe in me that I can do this, but I’m thankful for it,” Mutia said.

She starts training full time in Colorado in the spring, and she said her only goal is to win a medal.

The 2020 Summer Games and the Paralympic Games will be held in Japan.