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Gymnast Overcomes Barriers
11 Apr 2007
By Ashley Graf
Their cheers could be heard from the sidewalk as each Cougar competed. One of the highlights of the night was junior Aimee Walker Pond on the uneven bars. She delivered a solid routine and stuck her landing flawlessly. The performance earned a 9.825, a new career high for Pond.
She turned toward the stands, but the crowd was silent.
Her smile beamed as she saw thousands of hands waving wildly at her-cheering. For this elite gymnast, the sight was louder than all of the applause that reached the sidewalk because Aimee Walker Pond is deaf.
When Pond was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times and nurses had to resuscitate her. Doctors informed her parents that Pond’s Apgar scores were very low.
“It means that she probably won’t be a ballerina or a rocket scientist,” they said, but her mother, Patsy Walker, maintained a positive outlook.
Months later, tests confirmed that Pond was completely deaf in both ears and also blind in her right eye. Still, she enjoyed a lively childhood during which she tried many different activities. None seemed to fit until she was eight-years-old and her cousins invited her to watch them practice their new sport-gymnastics.
“They were all doing cartwheels and I thought, ‘I’ve never seen so many cool things!’ So I went to my mom and said, ‘Mom, I can do that,'” Pond recalled.
Deafness sometimes causes a balance problem and being blind in one eye affects depth perception, so at first, gymnastics did not seem like the most logical choice.