MED-EL has signed on to sponsor volleyball athlete Hunter Taylor for the 2016 Pan Am Games and World Deaf Championships. Richmond-based Taylor, age 21, has his sights set on Samsun, Turkey in 2017 – the 23rd Summer Deaflympics.
The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) is the main governing body responsible for the organization of Deaflympics and other World Deaf Championships. Founded in 1924 and known as the CISS (Comité International des Sports des Sourds), the ICSD is now approaching the century mark of being the organization behind inviting deaf or hard-of-hearing athletes from around the world to come together to compete in their respective sports, and to develop comradeships between their countries.
On his road to gold, Hunter will compete with Team USA in both the Pan Am Games, June 30-July 4, and the World Deaf Volleyball Championships, July 6-July 16 in Washington, DC.
Hunter was one of the first four world class athletes accepted to the national team roster last year. Born deaf, Hunter was also one of the first children in the United States to receive a MED-EL cochlear implant in 1998. However, he will not use his hearing device in the upcoming games because none of the athletes are permitted to wear cochlear implants or hearing aids during competition to ensure a level playing field.
Currently a student at Eastern Mennonite University, Hunter has not let hearing loss stand in the way on his path to becoming an elite volleyball player. He began playing volleyball at age 15 as a way to keep his 6’ 5” frame in shape for basketball, but volleyball turned out to be the game that lit Hunter’s competitive fire. By age 17, Hunter was competing at the High School national level. Having earned a spot on the USA National Deaf Volleyball team, Hunter continues working toward his ultimate goal of representing the USA in a future Olympics and playing volleyball on a professional level.
Image credits: Andy Taylor