The Hill Country has produced an Olympic athlete. Raised just eleven miles from Blanco by parents Russell and Jeanenne Maenius, Hannah Maenius attended school in Stonewall and later Fredricksburg and next year, she will compete halfway around the world in Taiwan.
Maenius runs track and competes in the 800 meter run and the 4x400 meter relay, and is currently running for the Texas A&M Corpus Christi team.
Hannah’s running career started in Middle School when the regular 800 meter runner was sick. The coach asked her to fill in, and she won. In fact, she won every race she ran in Middle School and High School. Her senior year, she won the UIL AAAA state title in the 800 meters.
Not only has Maenius broken records, but she has also broken barriers that might have kept some on the sidelines. She was born deaf, and was diagnosed with Mondini’s Syndrome when she was six months old. Also known as Mondini dysplasia or Mondini malformation, it is a genetic condition where the cochlea is incomplete, with only one and a half turns instead of the normal two and a half turns. This results in gradual or even sudden hearing loss that can be profound in nature.
She received a cochlear implant when she was twelve, which is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Unlike hearing aids, the cochlear implant does not amplify sound, but works by directly stimulating any functioning auditory nerves inside the cochlea with electric field stimulated through an electric impulse.
Although the implant helps Hannah distinguish sounds, when there is a lot of noise around her, she is unable to distinguish individual sounds. Instead of hearing the pop of the starter’s pistol, she looks for the smoke that escapes the gun just before the discharge. During the race, she looks for the shadows of the other runners so that she knows where they are.
On September 5, 2009, the 21st Annual Summer Deaflympics will open in Taipei, Taiwan. Hannah Maenius will be running the 800 meters and the 4x400 meters relay. The Deaflympics began in 1924, and for 84 years, deaf athletes from all over the world have competed.
Hannah will competing with the best of the best, but as the deaf American record holder in the 800 meters with a time of 2:11.2, she has set her sights on the gold medal. The current record in this event for the Deaflympics was set by Rita Windbrake of Koln, Germany with a time of 2:10.50 in 1981.
Maenius is training hard so that she can bring home that gold medal. She has also expressed interest in running in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She is well on her way to acheiving those dreams.
Individuals interested in contributing to Maenius’s trip to Taiwan may donate by mailing donations to Russell & Jeanenne Maenius, 13162 RR 1623, Blanco, TX 78606. Please make them out to USADTF. (US Deaf & Track.)