Dream comes true for blind skier McKeever

Mon Feb 1, 2010 7:09pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Legally blind since his late teenage years, Canada's Brian McKeever will achieve a long-cherished dream and a place in the record books when he represents his country at this month's Vancouver Olympics.

The popular cross-country skier from Canmore, Alberta, will become the first athlete to compete in both a Winter Olympics and a Paralympics and he fervently hopes to inspire as many people as he can, whether they are disabled or able-bodied.

McKeever has already inspired his Canadian team mates, many of whom view him as an able-bodied skier blessed with extraordinary talent.

"Brian is a standout athlete and he's a standout person," 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sara Renner told Reuters in a telephone interview. "He's a really hard worker and he never ever talks about his disability.

"As a team mate, I don't even notice it because he accepts nothing but his very best. Nothing holds him back. He is a real inspiration to all of us in overcoming weaknesses and being optimistic and positive. He's just an incredible athlete."

Cross country all-rounder Devon Kershaw knows McKeever very well after training with the 30-year-old countless times.

"You almost forget for a second that he can only see 10 percent of what I can see," Kershaw said.

"You see him in the evening trying to read something and his face is right up against it. You know the struggle that he has gone through to get to where he is. He is such an inspiration to us all."   Continued...

<p>Brian McKeever puts on his Team Canada Olympic jacket after he was announced to the Olympic Cross Country ski team in Canmore January 22, 2010. McKeever, who is legally blind, will make history this February by competing in both the regular 2010 Winter Olympic games and the Paralympic Winter Games. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>