Triathlete with macular degeneration doesn't want to wear 'blackout glasses'
She's been competing for more than two decades
9:43 PM, Feb 18, 2013
1:43 AM, Feb 19, 2013
CLEARWATER, Fla. - "This is the wall of fame, that's what I call it. These are all the medals throughout the years," explains Diane Berberian as she points to the numerous medals and framed race awards in her Clearwater home.
Berberian's medals are a testament to her love of competing as a triathlete.
"This is my world, I'm a triathlete," she smiled.
In recent years, Diane has not been competing alone. She's now tethered to a guide for the entire race.
"I am visually challenged," Berberian said.
Macular degeneration is slowly, but surely, robbing her vision.
"Challenged, is what I am. Most of the time, what I see are shadows. I have no clarity; I don't have depth perception," said Berberian.
Diane still competes in triathlons - but now does it in the visually-impaired category, which also includes blind athletes.
According to USA Triathlon rules - that means she has to wear blackout glasses during the run portion of the race if she is not completely blind. She says, that's not right.
"I think that it is more a situation of lack of awareness. I don't think it's discrimination at all," she said.
In an effort to bring awareness to the issue, Diane started an online petition at change.org asking the International Triathlon Union (ITU) to remove the blackout glasses rule for paratriathletes and create additional categories for the visually impaired.
In just a few days, there are more than 300 supporters, some of them from as far away as Japan and Australia.
"I think it's starting change," Berberian remarked.
It's something the sports governing bodies seem to be considering. When we asked about the issue - they sent this statement: "USA Triathlon continues to examine the issue of blackout glasses in conjunction with the ITU."
Berberian wants to remain positive and isn't concerned about being a squeaky wheel.
"I want to be known as somebody doing the right thing. If it is the squeaky wheel, I think everybody's open to their interpretation. It's okay, I'm okay with it," she said.