Blind Fairfield County native overcomes health challenges to compete at the Paralympics in Tokyo
A Fairfield County native is getting ready for a 750-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run on the world's biggest stage at the Paralympics in Tokyo.
It comes after the blind triathlete dealt with major health problems in the past year.
Amy Dixon now lives and trains in California, but she has plenty of fans in Connecticut who will be cheering her on next month because it has been such a long road to get to the games.
News 12 Connecticut first met Dixon five years ago as she trained in Greenwich ahead of the Paralympics in Rio.
Dixon had hoped to compete in the triathlon for Team USA but ended up becoming an alternate.
Now, at the age of 45, she's qualified for the games in Tokyo.
"To cross that line after such a difficult year for myself and for millions of Americans was such an amazing feeling," Dixon says.
Dixon nearly died last year, and her health has faced challenges for more than two decades. At the age of 22, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that ended up taking 98% of her eyesight. She's had 35 surgeries.
"When I am standing at a conversational distance from anyone, about 5 feet away, I can see your right eye, part of your nose, and part of your cheek. So basically, this corner of your face, so a quarter of your face. Everything else is black and what I can see is strobing and flashing," Dixon says.
With the help of a guide, Dixon is a world-ranked Para-triathlete.
She only started the sport seven years ago as a hobby.
"I was immediately hooked by the challenge, the sense of accomplishment, and it was something I felt very able-bodied, and I happened to be good at," Dixon says.
Her time caught the attention of Team USA, and the rest is history, but almost wasn't.
Last August, Dixon's autoimmune disease came out of remission. She needed shoulder surgery, which led blood to clots in her lungs.
Dixon already has a kind of mindset that she is taking with her going into these games.
"The biggest thing for me is being grateful to be alive and being able to represent my country, my home state of Connecticut and all my friends and family who have helped me get here and my doctors for sure," she says.
Dixon has no expectations for Tokyo, but she's heading there with momentum after winning the Paratriathlon Nationals on Sunday.
For more on Amy Dixon, visit her website at amydixonusa.com.