Most athletes have the benefit of seeing what’s ahead of them — an opponent, the bars, a vault.
But for 13-year-old Lola Walters, she usually has no idea what’s coming until she’s literally five feet away from it.
Walters, a Washington resident, is legally blind, and suffers from a disease called nystagmus which causes her eyes to shift constantly, leaving her with double vision and no depth perception, the Daily Mail reports.
“Most people I compete with don’t know I am any different to them,” Walters told the news source. “And as far as I’m concerned it can stay that way. If they don’t know, they don’t need to score me differently.”
The teen impressed audiences at the American Gymnastics Academy Long Beach Open earlier this year.
Lola’s mother, Beth, says that her daughter has been a gymnast since she was three — climbing across the monkey bars with ease. It wasn’t until she was already enrolled in gymnastics that Beth realized the extent of Lola’s vision problems, and by that point, Lola was already a good gymnast, King5.com reports.
“I don’t know what it would be like to do gymnastics with perfect vision,” Walters told King5.com, “so really, I don’t see a difference.”
Lola’s disability does cause her to fall more than others during a performance, ABC reports.
But that just means she gets back up more often, and tries again.
“She works twice as hard as everybody else,”Jackie Crooker, Lola’s gymnastics coach, told ABC, “and I’ve seen her fall harder than anybody, and she’ll get up and go again, every single time.