For some people, an impairment is merely an obstacle, never a barrier.
Cameron Ricketts is clearly one of those people.
The 13-year-old from Pasadena was born with a cataract in his left eye that has left him with just 30 per cent of his vision on that side. Doctors worry surgery may do more harm than good, so he wears carbon composite lens glasses to protect his good eye.
Despite this setback, Ricketts decided to sign up for Bennett’s Tae Kwon Do Academy about five years ago after a few of his other friends had joined.
As time went on, he fell in love with the sport. He registered in October and, by June, the academy held a black belt seminar. He was just a yellow belt at the time.
“When he was done that day, he said, ‘I want my black belt,’” his father Lee recalled.
Constantly learning new things and having fun are Ricketts’ main reasons for enjoying the sport. And the visual impairment? It’s no issue for him.
“Except for one kick that I couldn’t see, so I had to turn further to see,” he said. “I just have to work harder.”
This past weekend, it was finally Ricketts’ turn to go for his junior black belt, with testing taking place at the Corner Brook Curling Club. With an hour of warm-up and then about five hours of testing, Lee said it “made for a long day.”
It was all worth it, however, when Ricketts achieved his goal and had the junior black belt tied around his uniform.
“It feels really good,” he said of the achievement.
The next goals in the sport for the Grade 7 student at Pasadena Academy are even loftier, with hopes to train enough to one day attend the nationals, which would then put him on track for potential Olympic competition.
He also has a target a little closer to home — to open his own taekwondo academy.
“And teach taekwondo with my dad,” he said.