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Skier raises profile of Games

Brian McKeever, the only member of both Olympic and Paralympic teams,will lead the Canadian cross-country team into competition when theParalympics begin on Friday.

Brian McKeever, the only member of both Olympic and Paralympic teams, will lead the Canadian cross-country team into competition when the Paralympics begin on Friday.

McKeever, 30, the face of the Paralympic team, suffers from macular degeneration, making him legally blind.

He competes in the visually impaired category, one of three classifications based on disabilities. The other two classifications are standing and sitting.

Because of his disability, McKeever, like all visually impaired athletes, skis with a guide, who in his case is his brother, Robin McKeever.

“Robin gets out in front and the communication we have is mostly about feeling and comfort and I just follow the line he takes,” said Brian McKeever.

Robin, six years older than Brian, was an Olympic athlete in Nagano, something he would need to be to stay ahead of his younger brother.

“We’re very similar now in speed, the advantage I get is I get to follow him the whole time and get that draft, but it’s hard to lead out for the whole race … sometimes I finish on my own cause he’s done his job at that point,” said McKeever.

The profile of the Paralympics has been raised significantly thanks to McKeever, and he hopes the momentum will continue to build.

“This blind guy going to the Olympics has captured a lot of people’s imaginations. Hopefully that will bring them along into the Paralympics as well,” he said. “The racing speaks for itself, it’s good competition, and adding on top of that, these guys are inspiring in what they’ve overcome. You can’t write this stuff.”

 
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