Albino LDS track and field athlete Tyson Gunter qualified for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and will be competing in the 100m and 400m race.
Hailing from Pocatello, Idaho, Tyson grew up with albinism, meaning his skin, hair, and eyes lack pigment. He also suffers from vision impairment, which many albinos experience because of the optical system’s dependence on melanin in development. With extremely limited peripheral vision and almost non-existent depth perception, Tyson experiences between 20/100 and 20/200 vision.
According to the American Optometric Association, “If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.”
“My vision is small, compact and flat,” Tyson described. “The best way for me to describe this is looking through binoculars backwards.” However, even with his limited vision and depth perception, Tyson works hard in order to participate in track and field events. He competes in the T13 visually impaired class.
“As I grew up I didn’t know any better, so I would say that I am no different from anyone else,” Tyson writes on his personal blog. “I have done all the same things that people with perfect vision do. I am limited, but I give everything a chance. I have been really good at finding a way around my low vision.”
Originally excelling at jumping, he set goals to qualify for the 2016 Olympics back in January 2016. However, knowing that the 2016 Paralympic Games would not include jumping events, he trained for the 100m race, which is the shortest sprint race, and the 400m race, which Tyson described as “one of the most hated events in all sports.”
“[Jumping is] the thing I love most in track and field,” he said. “I have mixed emotions because I wish I was jumping, but it is a blessing to change events and still make the team.”
Now that he met his goal to make it to Rio, he wants to finish in the top five at the 2016 Paralympic Games. With his history of pushing himself and working hard, Tyson motivates himself through his family and faith. An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Tyson took time away from college to serve a two-year mission to Tacoma, Washington, and celebrates four years of marriage to his wife.
“The gospel has influenced everything in my life,” Gunter says. “I think that is the whole goal, to live the gospel and not just go to church. . . . I don’t do everything perfectly, of course, but I always try to consider my decisions based on the lifestyle that the gospel teaches.”
After returning from his mission, Tyson joined the track and field team at Idaho State University, where he excelled in jumping and running events. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Tyson qualified for Team USA on July 3, 2016, and will attend the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games on September 7, which follow the Olympic Games in August.