Baltimore resident earns spot in Paralympic Games

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He is newly married and on his way to Brazil! Baltimore resident Markeith Price has earned a spot in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is represent the United States. I haven’t been able to be a police officer or serve in the military but being able to represent my country in this capacity is a big thing,” said Price, a Tennessee State University graduate and one of 66 athletes chosen to compete for the U.S. in the games that will take place from September 7 to September 18, 2016.

Price, 26, will compete in the 100m and the 400m under the T-13 visually impaired classification. He married his sweetheart Jessica nine months ago and he has maintained a strong training regimen with her help and an even stronger desire to win a medal.

“I want a gold medal. I got some big challenges on my hand but I am looking to compete the best that I can and to get the gold, if not the silver or the bronze,” Price said. “I’ve been to several world championships, went to London in 2012, two Pan American games and this year, I’m shooting for the stars.”

Diagnosed with Optic Nerve Atrophy at the age of three, Price has lived with visual impairment his entire life. The condition is caused by damage of the optic nerve or due to the nerve never fully developing at birth.

While typical vision is 20/20, the vision in Price’s right eye ranges from 20/250-20/400 based on the lighting, and his left eye is more in the 20/600-20/800 range.

“As I got older and heard other people describe their vision, I was able to get a better understanding. Basically, to relate it to someone else, I can only really see a clear view of larger things from 2-5 feet,” he said. “After that, things do get blurry. With reading, it’s not 2-5 feet; it’s more like 2-5 inches.”

Price, who competed before a packed house of more than 80,000 at the Paralympics in London four years ago, said impaired and physically challenged athletes don’t have any advantages over those not impaired or challenged.

“All of us train just as hard, maybe even harder but we run the same distance, we lift the same weight— if not heavier— and everything goes into my body and mind the same way that it does with all Olympians,” Price said. “We’re no different and we put in the same dedication as they do and when I talk to them, they look at all of us as their equal.”

Price says he is excited about the games and is looking forward to continuing to work to help those who are visually impaired through his “I C You Foundation,” a nonprofit he started that raises money for scholarships and programs for the visually impaired. The foundation already has given more than $20,000 to the Maryland School for the Blind, the Tennessee School for the Blind, the United States Association for Blind Athletes and other organizations.

“It’s something that my parents really taught me and it’s something that I really believe in strongly, and that is giving back to the community,” Price said. “I specifically give back to the visually impaired community because I know that group of people and I know the struggle of how we go through life. I want to help people in the visually impaired community to go on and do something greater.”