September 24, 2013

International English Center Instructor Helps Guide Blind Triathlete to Victory

Photo by ITU/Delly Carr

Blind triathlete Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt had her sights set on gold in the Paratriathlon World Championships (sprint distance) in London, and on Friday, Sept. 13 she realized her goal with assistance from a University of Colorado Boulder instructor as her guide.

Mosquera-Schmidt now holds the title of the world’s fastest blind, female triathlete. Amanda McCracken, CU-Boulder International English Center instructor, acted as her guide, meaning the two were connected by a tether for the running and swimming portions of the race and they rode tandem during the bicycling leg.

McCracken helped direct, but she points out that Mosquera-Schmidt led the way.

“It’s Ivonne’s bravery and persistence that is to be admired and congratulated,” McCracken said. “I was just doing my job as navigator. I’m grateful for her trust in me and for, in many ways, guiding me through the experience.”

Over the years, Mosquera-Schmidt has trained with several different guides who have trekked alongside of her for 14 marathons and a hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. The women, both accomplished athletes, were introduced by a friend.

Mosquera-Schmidt is a Columbia native who grew up in New York City. She was diagnosed with retinal cancer at the age of one and both her eyes were removed to prevent the cancer from spreading. She finished first in the Olympic Distance Paratriathlon World Championships in 2009 and second in the Sprint Distance World Championships in 2010.

McCracken is a triathlete and running coach. She teaches English as a Second Language for the CU-Boulder International English Center. The pair share interests in triathlons and international travel, which made them a good fit.

This was the first triathlon that Mosquera-Schmidt and McCracken have completed together. McCracken may have helped Mosquers-Schmidt navigate the course, but Mosquera-Schmidt helped introduce McCracken to being a guide.

“Hopefully her example will encourage more blind athletes to enter competitions— with increasingly fair rules— and especially motivate more guides to emerge,” McCracken said.

Learn more about Mosquera-Schmidt on her website:

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