With the 2021 Summer Olympics quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to familiarize yourself with athlete statistics. You may be wondering who is going to take home the gold or which athlete is going to surprise us and beat the odds? Here at Audicus, we are looking into US Olympic athletes who experience a form of hearing loss. Surprisingly, it is more than you would think!

Let’s take a look at some current and former US Olympic athletes that prove that hearing loss can’t stop you from achieving your dreams.  

Jeff Float: Jeff is a US swimmer who specialized in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay. He made Olympic history by becoming the first deaf swimmer to win the gold medal during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Float is also the first person to win gold medals in both the World Games for the Deaf and the Olympic Games.

David Smith: David was diagnosed with 80-90% hearing loss, and has been wearing hearing aids since the age of three. David Smith made his debut during the London Olympics in 2012 competing on the US Volleyball team. He credits his success to lip-reading when communicating with his teammates, which he says has strengthened his relationships with his team members and made him a stronger athlete overall. 

Tamika Catchings: Tamika Catchings started experiencing hearing loss in both ears as well as a speech impediment at a young age. During her childhood, Tamika was bullied for wearing hearing aids, which led to her throwing them away. Catchings found that sports were the one place in her life where no one made fun of her, and she went on to become a notable US basketball player. She has completed 15 seasons in the WNBA and has earned WNBA Finals MVP honors, as well as the Reynolds Society Achievement Award. Tamika has also won gold medals in the last three summer Olympics

Chris Colwill: Chris was born with 65% hearing loss in both his ears, however, this setback did not stop him from becoming a US championship diver. Diving is not an ideal sport for hearing aids, so in order to know when to begin Chris uses the scoreboard for his prompt instead of the buzzer. Colwill has mentioned that he benefits from his hearing loss because it provides limited distractions when competing. Chris Colwill has competed in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. 

It is inspiring to read about these athletes and the challenges they had to overcome to achieve their goals. Keep your eyes and ears alert this summer when watching the Olympics to find out if any new competitors also experience a form of hearing loss!

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