When people think of blind athletes competing in the Olympics they probably only think of the Paralympics, but one Korean Archery contestant is defying that stereotype. Im Dong-Hyun is a 26 year old archer who has severe myopia. Not being able to see the target doesn’t stop him, though.
He has already won two gold medals from being on the Korean archery team in 2004 and 2008, and this year he’s shooting for gold in the individual competition. He started dabbling in archery when he was just 10 years old. He wanted to quit at 15, but his parents convinced him that the time he had invested would eventually pay off, and it certainly has.
When Im looks at the target, he can’t see the details. He can still see the colors of the board, but they’re more like paint splotches then defined areas for him to aim at. None of that matters, though, because he feels like seeing the target isn’t necessary anymore–his muscles have simply learned what they need to do. He even avoids doing other sports that may change the muscles that he uses for archery because he doesn’t want to compromise their learned memory.
Im feels like winning the Individual Men’s Archery competition would be the pinnacle of his career. Even if he does win, he plans to continue competing until 2020, which would make him a world leader for almost two decades. I hope that Im is able to achieve his dream and is an inspiration to all blind archers and the visually impaired community at large. It’s great to see that athletes with disabilities are being included in the regular Olympic games.