The two recently won gold medals at the 2017 Deaflympics Summer Games in Turkey, and while they stood in celebration, hands in the air and medals around their neck, they both sported their most important accessories behind their ears: Phonak hearing aids.
While the athletes didn’t wear their hearing aids on the course, they utilized them throughout the Deaflympics, which is the longest running multi-sport event excluding the Olympics themselves.
This was the first year that golf was featured in the competition.
Read more: Kaylin Yost wins gold at Deaflympics
“The Deaflympics were an amazing experience,” says Allen, the gold-medal winner among males. “Walking in that stadium full with 30,000 people during the opening ceremony was unreal. I’m still getting goosebumps when I talk about it. I tried to watch as many sports as possible during my freetime and the spirit and competition was very high. The fact that deaflympics take place every 4 years makes it more special.”
“I’m still getting goosebumps when I talk about it.”
Allen, who is from Germany, says there are many differences when competing in the Deaflympics compared to his routine competitions in the “hearing world.”
“Normally I play most of the tournaments in the hearing world so there are quite a few difficulties to overcome,” he says. “For example when everybody is looking for a ball and someone shouts ‘found it’ no one will hear you so there is a lot of waving and wild gestures so others will notice you. I was also amazed by the atmosphere and playing along other golfers that share the same fate.”
“…when everybody is looking for a ball and someone shouts ‘found it’ no one will hear you so there is a lot of waving and wild gestures so others will notice you.”
To compete in the Deaflympics athletes must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels (dB) or greater in their best ear, which is equivalent to a “moderate-severe” hearing loss or worse in both ears.
Both Allen and Kaylin have severe-to-profound hearing loss and wear Phonak hearing aids.
Additionally, Allen and Kaylin share a mission of encouraging others with hearing loss, and continuing to follow their passions despite the challenges they may face.
“Playing golf successfully also helped me to be accepted among my peers,” Allen says. “but I never wanted to have pity from others.”
“I want kids to know that being deaf or wearing hearing aids should never stop you from achieving your dreams.”