How a legally blind Paralympian sprinter is serving a unique mission in California

‘I’m not sure if this has been done before. ... I’m just going to do what the Lord wants,’ says Taylor Talbot

Talbot, a legally blind member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who represented the United States in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, will serve for 18 months in an unusual way, training and competing in track and field while also speaking at Church-sponsored events, possibly using her musical talents, doing temple work, acts of service, and other missionary-related activities in the San Diego, California, region. Ashton Riner BYU

“I’m not sure if this has been done before,” the 21-year-old said. “I don’t know if there has been an Olympian or Paralympian who has served at the same time they are doing their sport. … All I know is I’m going to be doing a lot of public speaking about my life, the miracles I’ve seen, and about Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. … I’m just going to do what the Lord wants.”’

Related: Blind paralympian receives mission call without sending an application

Taylor’s parents, Ron and Stacie Talbot, met while competing on the track and field team at Southern Utah University on athletic scholarships. They got married while she was still a convert and he had just returned from a mission.

The couple’s first kid, Taylor, didn’t take long to become passionate about the family sport. At age 2, she started running on the track, and by age 4, she was competing in sports events in Nyssa, Oregon.

Although Talbot began to lose most of her vision at a young age—around 2 or 3—retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye illness, was not discovered in her until she was 8 years old.

Today she is completely blind in her right eye, and the vision in her left eye is comparable to looking through a drinking straw.

First, the BYU-Idaho student wanted to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic team and compete in Japan.

While that was happening, she would also submit paperwork for a teaching mission so when the Tokyo games were over, she could serve for 18 months and return with more than two years to prepare for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

Talbot claims that without her sight handicap, she would not be the person she is today. She wishes for individuals who read her narrative to view their own struggles in a fresh light.

In comparison to when she was completely sighted, she said, “I have been able to contact more individuals and teach them about the gospel.” It has made me aware of many wonderful things in the world. It has given me an entirely new perspective on challenges. I’ve been able to express my gratitude more and have a greater understanding of the marvels and loving kindnesses that God has brought into my life. When I am physically blind, it is just so much simpler to see God’s hand at work.

 

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