Friday January 19, 2010

Posted by Ralph | 6:45 PM

I have posted about blind athlete Brian McKeever before who will be the first dual athlete in Winter Para and Olympic history. Here's a great articlw

VANCOUVER - Brian McKeever says he's raring to go as he stands on the verge of becoming the first man to ski in both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Unlike Paralympics, where as a partially-sighted racer he can rely on brother Robin for guidance, this time he will be on his own for the men's 50km cross country race on the final day of the Games on February 28.

"I'll just have to find some fast wheels to follow and hang on to them," Brian McKeever said Tuesday.

Asked to compare the Olympics and the Paralympics he said: "The Paralympics is just smaller."

McKeever, 30, says obtaining a place on the podium may be a bit much to expect, though just missing a top 20 finish at the World Championships gives him ample self-belief.

"I'm not going to stand up here and say I'm going to win medals because I haven't had this experience before," he said.

"I'm not focused on the gold medal but I am focused on results.

"It's really about just taking part. It's just another day at the office," added the racer from Calgary, who was diagnosed with Stargaards disease - macular degeneration or loss of central vision - 12 years ago.

Watching a video of the course on television he has to focus his vision away from the part of the screen he wants to watch.

Asked how he deals with his disability while racing McKeever explained: "If I know where the spots are (gaps between the skiers) then I can try and pick an ideal line."

On the loss of central vision, he said: "It's a bit of a strange thing because whereas everyone would look directly at an image, I would look above it or around it. It will never go to complete blindness, it's just a central vision loss.

"There's not a day goes by that I don't wish I could see better but this is what has made me who I am."

McKeever said that by competing at the Olympics with fully able-bodied racers he was striking a blow for Paralympic racers, who have a much lower public profile.

"I think we all understand that this is important. Whether or not I want to be the centre of attention is not important," he said.

"It shows that Paralympians are training at a very high level - if this brings more attention that's great."

In his event a little chaos theory helps.

"The mass starts can be a little crazy but it's kind of organized chaos at times

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