Chester Co. triathlete competes without sight

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Chester County woman is truly an inspiration, she will compete in a triathlon on Sunday, and she won't be able to see any of it.

She lost her vision to retina cancer at the age of two. But to see 35 year old Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt prepare for the U.S. National Para triathlon Championships, you'd find that hard to believe.

Believe it or not, the Colombian native will be competing Sunday along with her sighted partner Rebecca Smith with over 300 other athletes in the Philadelphia Insurance Companies Upper Main Line YMCA Triathlon.

This will be her 10th. She's also completed in 13 marathons, 2 ultra marathons, earned World Champion in Australia and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

"You have that ability within you," said Ivonne. "It's your choice whether you sit on the couch and feel sorry for yourself or whether you say, 'No, I want a different outcome for my life despite what anybody else tells me'."

Competing in these events under normal circumstances is tough enough. But competing in them without vision is an extra dimension that most people could not comprehend.

"I have no light perception, no shadows, so everything that I do when I'm on the run, when I'm on the bike, I'm dependent on the guide for verbal cues," Ivonne said.

Her biggest challenges, she says, is finding a sighted partner who can keep up with her.

"At my level, it becomes harder and harder to find people who are strong in all three disciplines," said Ivonne.

With her own website,www.iminmotion.net she hopes to inspire and encourage others with disabilities.

"The change you want in your life has to come from within you. Inside you, you have to want to reach for the stars," says Ivonne. "Don't be afraid of failing you have to fail in order to know what you're capable of doing."

And in the end, it is not her lack of sight, but that winning attitude that defines this remarkable woman.

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