Running with hearing loss

Running with hearing loss

Beryl Wamira sprints to the finishing line of 200m final on September 18, 2019 during the Africa Deaf Athletics champion at Moi International Sports, Kasarani.

Photo credit: Chris Omolo

1. Why do you love athletics so much?
My passion for the sport was nurtured by my father. He was an athlete when he was younger and he introduced me to it at a very young age. Running gave me a sense of belonging, despite my inability to hear. My dad always encouraged me to participate in school competitions, and my teachers came to discover my talent while I was in class four. I have never looked back since.

2. What challenges have you faced so far as a deaf athlete?
Training facilities are always hard to secure because priority is mostly given to able bodied athletes. Because of our condition, the authorities in most training grounds cannot allow us in without coaches or someone to guide us. The other challenge is lack of support. Fans end up pitying us instead of believing in us and that kills most athletes’ spirits. The third challenge is lack of enough coaches and sign language interpreters. Very few of them accept to train with us without the promise of payment.

3. What advice would you give other young deaf athletes looking to join this field?
I would ask them to first find out whether athletics is their passion. Secondly, they need to discover a purpose bigger than bagging medals. I want to use athletics to encourage young girls with disability to come out of their shells and join sports. Here, you will feel at home and you get to represent your country in global competitions. You can become anything you want to and stay away from begging on the streets.

4. What hobbies do you indulge in when not training or competing?
I love watching TV, scrolling through social media or watching videos on YouTube. Soap Operas are my favourite. When I'm in the village, I enjoy spending time with my siblings and helping my parents in the farm.

5. What should we expect from you during the upcoming World Deaf Athletics championships in Poland?
I'm particularly excited because it has been a while since I competed on such a big stage. I plan to improve on my 2017 performance and if possible, set a record because I've always wanted to be a renowned athlete, just like Catherine Ndereba.

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