RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Liana Mutia just can’t understand what the big fuss is.
“I don’t think there’s anything interesting about me,” said Mutia, of Millbrook High School.
But a female wrestler competing in a male-dominated sport is indeed interesting.
But what is even more amazing is she is legally blind.
“I was legally blind for a couple of years, but it’s really this year that the eye’s started to get bad,” Mutia said. “I really couldn’t hide it anymore this year.”
Mutia has been losing sight since her sophomore year but that hasn’t stopped her from competing. Judo is her primary sport but Mutia wanted a new challenge – and so she turned to wrestling.
Her parents at first were skeptical.
“I mean, it’s a boys’ game,” said Bern Mutia, Liana’s father. “So I said, ‘OK, let’s try it just don’t take any unnecessary risks and don’t get hurt.”
In practices and matches her opponent is required to always keep contact with her. That’s the only “advantage” Mutia is given.
On the mat there are no special privileges – everyone is equal.
“She’s a good teammate,” said Millbrook wrestling coach Scott Saby. “She works hard and competes and that’s what’s great about her.”
Being visually impaired, believe it or not, does give Mutia one advantage.
“It’s less scary – not knowing what they look like anyway,” Mutia said.
Not that her opponent’s appearance would matter. Mutia is fearless and has had
success this season, winning four matches against six defeats.
“A good record for a girl and a blind girl to be in there,” said her father.
But to Liana Mutia, wins and losses are not what’s most important.
“Wrestling kind of distracts me from my eye sight,” she said. “It makes me feel pretty normal.”
But more than anything, she is thankful for her teammates, who look out for her and help her get around.
If she had one wish, she said, “I’d like to see what they look like.”
She knows that will never happen.
Instead Mutia will have to settle for physical contact while competing in a sport foreign to most girls.