In the world of sport, having a sight problem can sometimes lead to a reduction in opportunities to pursue talent to an elite level.
Historically, gymnasts with eyesight issues have had to either wear contact lenses or perform without their glasses on, however for American gymnast Morgan Hurd, her eyesight was so poor that this was not an option.
Nevertheless, this plucky gymnast has shown that with determination and a little helping of eyewear technology, dreams can indeed be achieved.
Read on for the inspiring story behind this bespectacled athlete!
Morgan Hurd was born on the 18 July 2001 in Wuzhou in China and was adopted as a toddler by American Sherri Hurd, and soon after moved to Middletown in Delaware where she grew up.
Her mother has said in numerous interviews that Morgan tried a number of sports as a youngster such as football and ice skating, but she kept returning to gymnastics because she was small and nimble.
She first started gymnastics aged 3years old and has spent the last thirteen years honing skills and technique to become one of the world’s premier gymnasts.
wow. three years ago I got up at 6 am to watch the livestream of worlds in China. two years ago I traveled to Glasgow to watch worlds in person only dreaming of competing one day. then I made the team and it was surreal. then I made aa finals and again, surreal. and then this happened and it was the most amazing I have ever felt in my entire life. thank you to my friends, family, coaches, and anyone who has ever believed in me for the endless support that you give me everyday. I am so incredibly honored that I got to compete with so many incredible gymnast, in such a beautiful city, for my country. and I hope that I have inspired not only young athletes, but anyone, that if you have a dream, you should chase it with all of the power in your body and never give up on it. but, celebration cannot happen yet because the focus still has to be there for beam final on Sunday! xoxo
Between 2014 and 2016 Morgan competed on a junior level at several national competitions including the Nastia Liukin Cup, the P&G National Championships, and the U.S Classic performing good routines and increasing her competition experience. In 2016 at the American Classic she finished 1st in the all-around competition (the competition which includes routines on the floor, vault, uneven bars and beam. The gymnast with the highest overall score wins), proving that she was ready to move up to the senior level the following year.
At the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG) World Cup in Stuttgart, Germany in 2017, Morgan made her debut as a senior gymnast and quickly established herself as “one to watch” as she placed 3rd in the all-around competition. This performance and others during the summer earned her the notice of the American Team coaches and in September of 2017, Morgan was selected to join the American team at the World Championships in Montreal alongside Ragan Smith, Jade Carey and Ashton Locklear. Ragan Smith was the favourite to win the competition with Romania’s Larisa Iordache providing equal competition, but both competitors were forced to retire from the competition during the qualification and warm-up rounds and so this left the competition wide open for others, including newcomer Morgan Hurd.
On the day of the final, Morgan performed superbly, turning out three solid performances on the balance beam, uneven bars, and vault. When it came to the final piece of apparatus, the floor routine, Morgan was second to Canada’s Ellie Black and despite setting a foot outside the lines during her floor routine, she secured a high enough score to take her into 1st position and won her the title 2017 World Champion.
Gymnastics and Glasses?
Morgan has limited eyesight beyond her peripheral vision when not wearing glasses and so some form of corrective lenses are required for her to be able to see on a day to day basis.
Contact lenses, whilst convenient in the design for gymnastics, can attract dust from the chalk that gymnasts use to give their hands grip whilst they perform routines. Morgan said in a recent interview, “I tried contacts, but they made my eyeballs dry, and when I got stuff in my eyes, I had to take them out and put them back in.”
Glasses are the only other option open to Morgan, aside from corrective surgery, and so she has had to get used to performing her routines within the sphere of wearing glasses. She is only the second gymnast in history to perform in spectacles and the only gymnast to perform such complicated routines whilst wearing them. In a recent interview with The Philly Inquirer, Morgan said the following about performing in her glasses,
“I think I’ve been doing it for so long, I know how to work around not seeing out of certain spots and where to look”
It’s not easy though, and sometimes when her glasses fog up, or when she’s performing a complicated element in a routine, she relies on muscle memory and visualisation rather than actually being able to see the apparatus in front of her.
One thing is for certain, Morgan is not going to let her use of glasses hold her back from developing and improving as a gymnast, and she is already training and preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, hoping to be able to compete against gymnastic powerhouse and three times World Champion Simone Biles. In fact, in interviews after her success at the World Champions, Morgan was told by interviewers and fans that she had made glasses cool again!
Essential Sporting Eyewear
SelectSpecs has a range of goggles and glasses which are perfect for any type of sports, such as these Nike 7072/1 glasses, specifically designed for use in sports.
Their rubber side arms are perfect for providing grip alongside the face so that they do not slide down, but if you are wanting to tumble like Morgan, then you may want to pick up one of these Oakley Eyewear Strap Kits,
This stretchy strap extends around the back of your head and the rubber ends slide easily on to the side arms of most glasses so that you have maximum security when performing more extreme sports, such as gymnastics!
Fancy reading more? Find out which eyewear style is the best suited to your winter work out!
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