Hard of hearing athlete helps ISDB reach state for the first time since 2006

Published: May. 20, 2018 at 11:19 PM MDT
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The 2018 high school state track championships have come and gone. And one local school made its first appearance in more than a decade.

Zack Smith represented the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind in the 400 meter race.

He lives in Boise, but spends the school week in Gooding and he's not letting his disability stand in his way of his goals.

The pre–race directions can make or break you before the race even begins. Leaving before the gun shot is an automatic disqualification.

Now imagine if you're hard of hearing.

"He says if it's quiet he can hear, but if it's not, he can't hear it as much," explained Smith's coach, Ken Anderson. Filer coach Rob Anderson is helping to translate for Anderson.

Smith said. "he's one of the best coaches I've had since I started running."

Zack Smith is hoping to break his grandpa's school record set back in 1952. "My best time is 56, but i'm hoping to get down to 49," Smith exclaimed.

Anderson is deaf and reads lips. But they communicate through sign language. Conditions were a little windy on Friday and Anderson helped Smith see the signals. The eyes replaced the ears.

Smith finished 15th in the 1A 400 prelims and even though he didn't advance to the finals, he tied his personal record, 56.66 seconds, shaving nearly four seconds off his time in just one month.

"He's got two more years, so he'll get better."

His coaches along with new friends expect Smith to return next year.

Rob Anderson speaking on behalf of Ken Anderson said, "so you're telling him to run all year, to lift weights, keeping lift weights."

"It's just really exciting," Smith added.

The last ISDB athlete to compete at state track prior to Smith, Amanda Hope in 2006.