Courtesy: WSMV News
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Athletes who have defied tremendous odds will take center stage in Rio de Janeiro at the opening of the Paralympic Games.
The Games got underway Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Dozens of Nashville residents will have a reason to cheer as Tennessee State University’s own Markeith Price prepares to compete.
Price got his first shot at the games in London, but did not place. He is hoping this time will be different.
“I know I’m going to be excited. I know I’m going to be nervous. But I’ll just have a smile on my face the whole time and just enjoy myself,” Price said. “And when it’s go time and ready to compete, it’s go time.”
Like most runners, Price spends early mornings practicing starts, lifting weights, and improving his times at the 100 and 400 meter events.
But unlike most athletes, Price cannot see much of the track.
“At the age of 3, I got diagnosed with something called optic atrophy, which is damage to the optic nerves,” he said.
The nerves that connect the eyes to the brain are damaged for Price. He can barely see five feet in front of him.
“Honestly, I can only see but so far,” Price said. “Like we’re talking now, I’m looking straight in the camera, but I really can’t see the picture.”
But Price never let sight hold him back. As a child, he said when he couldn’t see the lines on the track, he learned to feel them.
“One thing I like to say is, yes, I’m limited by sight, but I am not limited by my faith,” he said.
He took that tenacity with him to TSU, where he joined the track team and trained under Coach Chandra Cheeseborough.
“We treated Markeith as a regular athlete,” Cheeseborough said. “He would be on relays, expected to jump, run, whatever event we put him in. It was not limitation. We did not succumb to his disability.”
Price credits TSU for making him the athlete he is today as he sports USA Paralympic gear.
“I’ve got the Team USA with the Nike on the chest,” Price said, smiling.
Price said he can’t wait to compete for a medal and make his family and Nashville proud.
“To all my family and friends, to all my coaches, Coach Cheeseborough, to TSU family, I want to say thank you for supporting me. I appreciate you guys for all that you’ve done,” he said.
The Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. on NBCSports. They are also available to watch online.
Price will be running in the 100 and 400 meter races on Thursday.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.