LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Before Beatriz Hatz gets into the starting blocks for a sprint race, she’s nervous, but she’s also thinking about what the person in the lane next to her is thinking.
“The kid in the lane next to me will kind of make a face like, ‘Oh, it’s the kid with one leg. I don’t have to worry about her. By the end of the race I have to gain respect, I don’t automatically have it,” Hatz said. “Once I beat somebody they kind of let themselves back.”
She’s just 18 but was named the female track athlete of the year by U.S. Paralympics. She started track in high school on a whim, but last year her fast sprinting and long jump took her to Europe for the Junior World Championships. She won two golds and a silver.
“I really don’t like pity and I’ve seen people say, ‘Oh I feel so bad for you’ Don’t feel bad for me I can do everything you can do,” Hatz said.
Growing up sports were always part of her life. Hatz was born with Fibular Hemimelia. Before her first birthday, her right foot was amputated. She’s had a total of 11 surgeries.
“You have two bones. You have the front shin bone and then the back one, the back one is a lot thinner, and that’s the one that I’m missing,” Hatz said.
She’s never been held back. She still snowboards, but has left softball and basketball behind. Her sights are now set on making the 2020 Paralympic team.
“I look up to the older people I run with Para and I just want to get on their level and work to beat them,” she said.
Her parents have kept her humble and never let her make excuses.
“We always told her, your effort and proving yourself will be the ultimate win,” her dad John Hatz said.
At a recent meet, Beatriz’s blade drew a crowd.
“These little girls came up to her and started talking to her about her leg. How cool her leg was. They were amazed by her and they really liked her,” Beatriz’s mom, Beatriz said.
She’s got her sights set on the pinnacle of her sport, but Beatriz knows she’s also going to be a role model in the process.
“It was really cool. I thought the kids were really cute. It was nice to know they look up to me,” said Beatriz.