Local man looks back on his Paralympic victory

Meredith Mooney, Investigation Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






He walks into the stadium and the crowd cheers. He steps up onto the track, the rubber bouncing under his feet. The horn blares; he takes off. His feet move in a rhythm that seems so familiar to him. The anxiety kicks in and he runs faster. He can’t see a thing.

This may have been going on in the mind of Paralympic runner Courtney Williams. Williams competed in the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain. He participated in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and won a bronze metal in the 4×100 relay.

The Paralympics is a sporting event for disabled athletes. The individual’s competitors are chosen based on which disability they have. For example, a non-sighted individual would not compete against an individual without arms.

Williams lost his vision in a gun accident when he was six years old.

“I did everything that most normal kids did, just in a different way,” he said. “I still performed on the same level as sighted individuals.”

Today, Williams lives in Gray, Tennessee.

“I currently work as a technology specialist for the state of Tennessee, working with blind individuals in East Tennessee,” he said.

Williams has four children, one of which is Kris Markl, the Spanish teacher at Sevier Middle.

Williams always enjoyed wrestling and track.

“I never realized how good I was in athletics,” he said. “I thought I was average, I guess you would say. I did receive a track and wrestling scholarship for colleges when I graduated from high school.”

Williams didn’t know anything about the Paralympics, but was inspired by a conference.

“I went to a national conference and they mentioned, ‘you know they have the Paralympics every four years’,” he said.

Once he heard about the Paralympics, he was intrigued.

“It’s one of those special opportunities that you get to represent your country, so I took it as an honor, and not everyone gets that opportunity,” Williams said.

In the Paralympics, blind runners use a guide, a sighted runner to navigate the track. They are attached by the wrists with an elastic band.

“We had to meet a minimal standard in each race in order to qualify, and then we had an olympic trial that we had to go to and they took the top three in each event,” Williams said. “After I did make it to the Paralympics, all the Paralympians spent two months in the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs.”

Being a blind runner in the Olympics wasn’t easy.

“We did have a really busy, busy schedule,” he said. “The difficult part was trying to do the best we could in each race to make it to the next round of that event.”

With individuals from all over the world involved, one can imagine what a competitive and intense environment it was.

“There was a lot of competition, and staying on task and focusing was really, really hard with everything you have going around you,” Williams said.

Despite his busy schedule and difficulty focusing, Williams still was successful and won a bronze medal in a relay.

“It was a great opportunity to receive it, and I cried when I received it,” he said.

Williams enjoyed the sports he participated in for the Paralympics, but doesn’t regularly participate in them anymore.

“I do some running for conditioning,” he said. “Currently, I play a sport called beep baseball for the blind. It’s a modified version of softball for the blind that has a beeper in it.”

Williams has played this sport for two years and enjoys it a great deal.

Though there have been some lows in Williams’ life, he chooses to focus in the highs.

“You can do whatever you put your mind to,” he said. “It may be a little extra work, but it’ll pay off in the long run. I never looked at myself at being blind or disabled. When I go to run, I would just go about it as if I was a sighted individual.”

He walks into the stadium and the crowd cheers. He steps up onto the track, the rubber bouncing under his feet. The horn blares; he takes off. His feet move in a rhythm that seems so familiar to him. The anxiety kicks in and he runs faster. He can’t see a thing. This is Courtney Williams’ life.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “It’s just up to you how far you want to go.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email