Blind pole vaulter Charlotte Brown wins state championships bronze

Charlotte Brown and service dog Vador
Charlotte Brown had several operations to stabilise her vision as a child

A blind pole vaulter has realised her dream by winning a bronze medal in the Texas state high school championships.

Teenager Charlotte Brown cleared 3.5m and was joined on the podium in Austin by her guide dog Vador.

Brown developed cataracts at 16 weeks and had artificial lenses inserted, but her vision began to worsen aged 11 and she is now blind with only a "jigsaw puzzle" of light and dark shades.

"This story really wasn't about me," said the 17-year-old.

"It was about everybody that struggles with something."

Charlotte Brown
Brown received a standing ovation from several hundred fans in Texas

The Emory Rains student has pursued a medal for the past two years, finishing eighth and then fourth before taking third as a high school senior on Saturday.

Brown first took up pole vaulting, which is not a Paralympic sport, in seventh grade because she wanted something a little "dangerous and exciting".

She counts the seven steps of her left foot on her approach, listening for the sound of a faint beeper placed on the mat that tells her when to plant the pole and push up.

"It took me three years to get on the podium, and I finally did it," added Brown, who is heading to university at Purdue on an academic scholarship.

"If I could send a message to anybody, it's not about pole vaulting and it's not about track. It's about finding something that makes you happy despite whatever obstacles are in your way."

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