PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An elderly West Philadelphia native is set to compete in an international fitness competition, and what makes him unique isn’t just his age. That special bond between coach and athlete is especially strong with CrossFit Rittenhouse trainer Jon Mears and Charles King Jr.
“He brings more to my life than I could ever give him,” Mears said. “Just getting to work with him, it’s just amazing to see everything he’s been through, and he just keeps going. Never stops, always a smile on his face.”READ MORE: Police Investigating ATM Robbery At Northeast Philadelphia Convenience Store
Not only is King at 70 years old, the most senior athlete at CrossFit Rittenhouse, but he’s also completely blind.
“I wasn’t born blind. I went blind when I was 39 years old,” he said. “After that came prostate cancer. After that came diabetes. After that came degenerative arthritis, and I’m looking up and I’m saying, ‘God, what is wrong?’”
Despite all of those issues, this West Philly native makes it twice a week to CrossFit Rittenhouse, a hike via public transportation so he and Mears can train for the CrossFit Games.
“He’s going to be, as far as I know, the first 70-year-old blind athlete to compete at the games level,” Mears said.READ MORE: Fire Crews Rush To Battle 2-Alarm Blaze At New Castle County Apartment Complex
And having King learn the movements takes a special process.
“We’ll do a lot of tactile things. He’ll feel my body,” Mears said. “I’ll tell him how the workouts work.”
“For me, my brain has to coordinate the muscles and the skeletal movements,” King said, “and find a rhythm in order to keep my balance and position.”
And it’s a process that King cherishes.
“These exercises, I’m learning how to control my body, it’s bringing new life to me,” he said. “It’s bringing new hope to me because these are things I never thought I’d ever be able to do.”MORE NEWS: 2-Alarm Fire Damages Rowhome In Delaware County
King is also a professional powerlifter and says he plans to be the oldest blind Olympian on the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes team. You can help him reach that goal by clicking here.