Vision-impaired teen to run half-marathon in Melbourne
INSPIRATIONAL teen Austin O’Connor-Stubbs is set to take on a half-marathon on Sunday.
This is an amazing feat for any teenager but for Austin it is extraordinary.
The 17-year-old has a vision-impediment; he only has about 15 per cent of his vision left.
Austin will swap his footy boots for runners to take part in the Melbourne Marathon Festival hoping to raise money for the Centre for Eye Research Australia.
Austin said he first noticed something wrong with his vision in the middle of last year.
“I was in a football game and I remember I couldn’t read the scoreboard that well,” he said.
When you tell people you have lost your eye sight, they think you are completely blind, there is no in between
“At the next training session, they started kicking it to me and I dropped a mark and thought that was weird.
“I spoke with my mum and dad and told them I had a serious problem.
“I couldn’t see, my vision was getting blurry.”
Austin said after completing a range of different tests, and thinking the worst a diagnoses was finally made.
Austin has Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare and untreatable form of blindness that affects mostly adolescent males.
Despite the diagnoses, Austin continued to play football, however his coach was less optimistic about him playing.
“He lost faith in me,” he said.
“When you tell people you have lost your eye sight, they think you are completely blind, there is no in between.
“My coach benched me a lot after that.”
Austin has since changed teams, he now plays for Bridgewater, a team he says has welcomed him with open arms.
The Bendigo Senior Secondary College student said over the past year he had learned a lot about himself.
“In some ways I’m glad it happened,” he said.
“It’s changed my attitude a lot, I’m a lot less negative now and I try to focus on the positives in life.”
Mother Maureen described her son as amazing.
"We're so proud of how well he's coped, he has been fantastic," she said.