First Legally Blind Athlete to Compete in the Olympic GamesMarla Runyan made history by becoming the first legally blind athlete ever to compete in the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000. She made it to the finals, where she placed eighth in the 1,500 meters, the best finish by an American woman in that event. Beginning in 2001, she won three straight US national championships in the 5,000 meters.
In 2002 she won the national championships in the road 5K and 10K, and also married her coach Matt Lonergan that year. Marla went on to compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
In 2002 and 2006, Marla was awarded USATF's "Runner of the Year" honor. She held IPC world records or world bests in the T13 classification in an amazing 10 events.
At age 10, Marla was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. At that point, many around her, including her parents, told her she "couldn't", which merely motivated her to show that she "could!"
Please reach out to SDCB to learn more about our vision rehabilitation programs and services,
“First legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games”