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Paralympian Brian McKeever Set To Take Olympic Spot

December 25, 2009

Canadian cross-country skier Brian McKeever is a step closer to becoming the first man to compete at a Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The four-time Paralympic gold medallist won an able-bodied 50km race in Alberta on Tuesday – a result he needed to be eligible for the Canadian Olympic team.

The 30-year-old has Stargardt’s disease and has less than 10% vision – all of it peripheral.

Cross Country Canada will name their team for Vancouver next month.

McKeever won Tuesday’s race by more than 12 seconds, crossing the line in two hours, 21 minutes and 8.5 seconds and was delighted with his performance.

“It’s the best race I could lay down today, and whatever happens, happens,” he said. “That’s all you can ask to have, the best race on the day when it matters.

“It’s out of my hands now. The goal was to try and win this particular race. I’ve prepared all year for it, even four years for it. I figured this was my best shot.”

McKeever, who began skiing aged 13, started losing his sight aged 19 and is guided in Paralympic events by his elder brother Robin, who was a member of the 1998 Olympic team and finished eighth on Tuesday.


The pair won two golds and a silver in Salt Lake City in 2002 and repeated the feat in Torino with gold in the 5km and 10km and silver in the 20km, also adding a bronze in the biathlon.

Three years ago, Brian finished 21st in an able-bodied men’s 15km race at the 2007 World Championships.

He skis without a guide in able-bodied events and has to memorise the course or follow another competitor.

Five athletes – all in summer sports – have competed in the Paralympics and Olympics – South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, American runner Marla Runyan, Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka, Italian archer Paola Fantato and New Zealand archer Neroli Fairhall.

“The message is, you put your mind to it and you work really hard for it you can do anything,” McKeever added.

“To have a home games again in Canada, Olympics and Paralympics, it’s just fantastic.

“We’ve got a good product at the Paralympic Games and it’s good competition. It’s tight racing and everybody is training the same as their able-bodied counterparts.

“With a visual disability, the body is still 100% so I can push it pretty hard on the uphills. It shows we’re in top physical condition as well and hopefully people will come out and watch the Paralympics in Vancouver.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 28, 2009 7:56 pm

    So exciting! It’s very interesting that this year the borderlands between less-abled and able-bodied, male- and female-bodied have been called into question. I know that there are plenty of reactionary and narrow-minded reactions to disability and non-normative gender roles, but I’m pleased that these marginalised issues have been brought to the fore lately.

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