By Trish Oberhaus
I just read an amazing and inspiring story. The New York Times ran an article about Brian McKeever, a cross country skier who has his sights set on Olympic gold and who is also legally blind.
McKeever has had his share of success in his career, winning four cross-country skiing gold medals at the Paralympics so far. He made his debut with the Canadian team at this year's world Nordic skiing championships in Sapporo, Japan. This was a first step toward a goal of racing in the Olympic and the Paralympic Games when they both come to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2010.
Brian's life changed abruptly after he raced in the world junior championships in 1998. He was 19 and noticed that he could no longer make out street signs. He was found to have Stargardt disease, an inherited degenerative condition that causes the loss of central vision. "In one semester at university, I went from being able to read everything from the back of a lecture hall for 400 people to moving to the front row and not being able to read a thing," McKeever said.
Still, McKeever continued to ski, with his brother serving as his guide. However, McKeever's first move toward reaching the Olympics in 2010 was qualifying for Canada's national team at races earlier this season and to do so required skiing without his brother as a guide.
In Sapporo, McKeever's best result was also the Canadian team's best showing. "From a skiing perspective, his goal for 2010 is completely realistic," said Dave Wood, the coach of the Canadian national team and McKeever's coach as a junior.
The best of luck to him!