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Steffan Nero is a record-breaking blind Australian cricketer who has found a ‘home’ in the sport. Nero plays for the Australia national team.

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Steffan Nero was sight handicapped in school. He remembers being “extremely quiet,” “lonely,” and “strange” Visually challenged sports, especially cricket, altered his life.

“I was a different person with other blind individuals. Nero said he was outgoing and enthusiastic.”

“You’re a member. You have had similar experiences. You can all talk, especially with older players… They can teach you how to approach things.”

“Everyone is related. Everyone is attempting to help, push, and encourage each other. You have a fraternity… establish eternal relationships with your comrades.”

This fraternity helped Nero become an international athlete in numerous sports. In June, he set a record for blind cricket runs.Nero hit 309 not out against New Zealand, breaking Masood Jan’s 1998 record of 262.

His record-breaking attempt made national and worldwide news, which made Nero realize his accomplishment.

“I say, ‘Take the first step.'” It will be hard. Once you’re part of that group, things get easier and can be really gratifying.

“There are so many sports, especially in Australia. Goalball, tennis, soccer, cricket, AFL, golf.

On June 10 in Brisbane, Australia, Nero congratulates a colleague at the International Cricket Inclusion Series.

Sanctuary

Nero was born blind.Achromatopsia causes light sensitivity and color blindness. One in 30,000 to 40,000 people in the UK have it, according to the NHS.

Nero has congenital nystagmus, an involuntary eye movement that makes everything fuzzy.Due to these conditions, Nero has trouble focusing during certain periods of the day, such as when the sun is low.

Nero played cricket with his dad at the park. He could not see the ball well enough, so they stopped.He tried karate, goalball, and football, representing Australia in many of them.Two buddies suggested he try blind cricket, and he discovered his sport.Nero hits a shot in a cricket match. Nero initially played cricket for fun, but learning a new sport is difficult.Blind cricket is different from able-bodied cricket. Teams are made up of players with varied visual impairments, the ball is hard plastic with ball-bearings inside so players can hear it, and bowlers bowl under-arm rather than over-arm.

Lindsay Heaven mentored Nero during a training session.”He taught me how to play and about life,” Nero said.”He remarked, ‘If you work hard, you can succeed in the sport.'” Encouragement and support motivated me to train more.

Things were not easy. Nero was left off England’s 2015-16 Ashes squad, which he feels motivated him.

This motivated Nero to play for Australia.

In 2017, he had Pakistan’s batting coaches sent to Australia to help him “replicate players from India and Pakistan,” according to Cricket Australia.

Nero throws back the ball during a cricket match. His training paid off in June with a record-setting afternoon.

Nero said he was just trying to get his squad off to a good start against New Zealand. At 200, he understood he had something special.

Nero remembers feeling tired after reaching 309 not out, surpassing Eugene Negruk’s 222.

“I was walking away and thought, ‘Oh my gosh.'” He said, “I was in the zone.”

People do not know that eyesight impairment makes it harder to focus. After straining your eyes for that long, many people feel headaches and weary.

Nero’s highlight was receiving mainstream media recognition because it could help other impaired athletes and change people’s attitudes on their talents.

“Most people were impressed or remarked, ‘Oh, wow, I didn’t realize there’s a disability sport,’” he added.

“I think it helped shift people’s ideas about what disability means, because when you say blindness or vision impairment, people assume the worst, which implies someone who’s closed off, shuffling around, and quiet. However, that is not true.

Nero “thrived” when he played blind cricket.

Nero said, “And since people see it in mainstream media, and they may have a buddy with a disability or their kid, daughter, they go: ‘OK, that’s what’s available out there.'”

Nero received mostly positive feedback, however a small minority posted harsh comments online. Some made jokes about disability cricket, and others downplayed the achievement by remarking, “It’s just disability cricket.”

Nero never let dissenters get him down. “That’s social media. Even people without disabilities deal with this. After a while, I stopped glancing at the comments and said, “You know what? This is good for blind cricket and disabled people in Australia.'”

Nero’s game goals are sky-high after his record-breaking run score. His hopes to help future disabled cricketers are astronomical.

“I want to give back to the game and help new players because they’re the future.” Because it helped me grow up.”

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