Canadian Brian McKeever wins Paralympic gold in 2018 Winter Games
Toronto, Mar 13 (IBNS): Brian McKeever, from Canada, one of the older athletes in the World Cup circuit at age of 38 battled against men nearly 20 years his junior and won gold at PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
On Sunday, he won it alongside guides Graham Nishikawa and Russell Kennedy, in the men's 20-kilometre cross-country ski freestyle race, media reports said.
This is the 14th medal in his career, making McKeever Canada's most decorated Winter Paralympian.
Late Lana Spreeman reportedly had won 13 medals in para-alpine skiing between 1980 and 1994.
Twenty years after learning, he was losing his eyesight but the Canmore, Alberta based McKeever, never lost a step.
"The last lap was very hard," McKeever was reported to state. "I was hurting at the end."
McKeever's gold medal in the men's visually impaired 20km cross-country skiing event gave him 14 career Paralympic medals, the most in Canadian history.
His Paralympic resume now includes 11 gold, two silver and one bronze, with more chances for medals to come in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"These guys did a great job of towing me today," McKeever was reported to say after the race. "They took care of me the whole way."
When McKeever was18 he wept to learn that he had Stargardt disease which reportedly was already wrecking his central vision.
He was reported to say that he could see the doughnut but not the hole.
Already an accomplished skier at the time, McKeever picked up his spirits and found a new path by switching over to the Canadian Paralympic program.
At age 30, his coach decided to leave him on the sidelines for the men's 50-km race at the 2010 Vancouver Games, B.C.
McKeever felt his dream of racing at both the Olympics and Paralympics shattered.
Although dejected, he picked up courage to win three Paralympic gold medals on the Whistler course.
Four years later, he found himself into the men's visually impaired one-kilometre race in Sochi with two Russians and one Swede, but McKeever was able to win gold medal there also.
"I always wanted to be part of it," he reportedly told CBC Sports before arriving in Pyeongchang. "Having an older brother [Robin] who went to the Olympics in 1998 in Nagano was just another step along the way. Little brother always wants to be like big brother.
"I followed a career path similar to his and then I lost my eyesight.… I realized I could have a career in this sport anyways. That's all I ever wanted to do. I wanted to be a skier."
CBC Sports had tweeted, 'Relentless. History maker. Brian McKeever, 14-time Paralympic medallist ... and big Shawshank Redemption.'
As McKeever grew older, his vision got worse and he was reported to say that this could be his final Paralympic Games.
But McKeever's golden performance Sunday, according to reports, leads one to believe that he would be back for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China.
"I don't know about that," said Nishikawa, 34. "We still have a really busy week ahead of us. But with Brian, nothing would surprise me. It's amazing to be around someone so great at something. Every year, he brings something more. He's just relentless.
"I'm in awe even just hanging out with the guy."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)