Despite a serious vision issue, Deborah Chucoski is training for triathlon and is aiming at taking part with Team USA in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
At age 15, “I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s. That’s a degenerative disease – and over time I’m just continuing to lose more and more of my central vision.” But that didn’t keep her from competing in track & field during her days at Cedarville University. After graduation in 2007, she became active in triathlon until it became clear her sight limitations were dangerous for solo swimming and cycling. There were some bike wrecks. And that led Deborah to stop competitive sports altogether.
Fast-forward. Now married and a mother of two, Deborah has been inspired by her husband to return to competitive athletics. This time in the Paralympics. She and her husband were watching the 2021 Games, “I literally was sitting there crying, cause I knew that I had the drive and I had the ability to push myself – and I just needed someone to come alongside of me, which is where the guide came along. And as soon as I did my first race with a guide in 2021, I knew that I could at least try. I feel like watching the Olympic Games was when really God was like saying, ‘You can, you’re doing this!’”
How a guide works
“You still compete in the swim, bike, run and you compete in the full distance,” and while swimming “we are attached by a cord right on our sides so we can still have our full swim motions, and still be able to kick, and not mess each other up, but be close enough that he can still guide me around the buoys around the course itself. And then when we get out, we transition to a tandem (bike), and he’s in the front – cause he can see – and I’m in the back, but we are riding together. And then again, we come and transition – we put a belt on – and we’re attached by the waist, so then we can still run. And we do the entire run across the finish line, attached.”
Christian music part of training
“I committed to listening to all Christian music while I’m training, because again, the stuff that you put in is the stuff that will come out. And I’m trying to put in as much Christ in me so it can then come out. And I found myself…I have a list of people I’ve been praying for, so I found myself going there while I’m on the bike.” Lots of prayers for others.
Faith is everything
“I could not do this without my faith and being grounded in knowing that God has called me to do this. Because if God has called you to do something, he equips you to do it.”
Family matters, too
“Many, many, many behind-the-scenes hours go into training, to eating right, to recovery – balancing having two young kids, being a wife. If you look at the big picture you think, ‘Wow how can you do this?’ You just take it one step at a time. God gives me the strength. He gives me the stamina to be able to handle the kids, to do that well.”
In our complete podcast interview just below, Deborah shares how her support system works so well, with family, friends, and church. And her committed Paralympic guides. Be encouraged by her faith and determination!