[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 9 October 2005, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
'Cannonball' skier's blind trust
Kevin Alderton
The former soldier is aiming at speeds of more than 130mph
A blind man is aiming to ski at speeds of 130mph in France next year guided only by directions through an earpiece.

Kevin "Cannonball" Alderton, 34, hopes to set a new world speed-skiing record.

The Kent man and ex-soldier was a keen skier before a gang attack in 1998, which happened after he went to help a woman. He was left with 4% vision.

He spent years at rock bottom before climbing back. "There's got to be a lot of trust. If they say left and mean right then I'm stuffed," he said.

The Dartford man was punched and kicked to the ground by about 30 men after he tried to help a woman who was being attacked in Islington, north London.

"My arms were pulled wide and two people knelt on my wrists, whilst another person knelt on my shoulders and continuously drove two fingers into my eyes," he said.

He said the damage became apparent the next day, as he was driving home on the motorway.

I decided there and then that I wasn't going to give in .... I could still feel what was happening beneath my skis
Kevin Alderton

He thought he was "just battered and bruised" but he started to see large dark spots and big blobs.

"Suddenly, I sneezed, and when I opened my eyes, everything was black," he said.

Mr Alderton managed to stop the car on the hard shoulder and dial 999.

At London's Moorfields Eye Hospital, he had nine operations in seven months to repair his detached retinas, dislodged lenses and a split cornea, but his sight, as had had known it, had gone.

The St Dunstan's charity, which helps blinded ex-servicemen and women, told him skiing was still possible.

He said his first run was "interesting", with some spectacular falls.

Kevin Alderton
His speed-skiing ambition was met with 'open-mouthed amazement'

"I decided there and then that I wasn't going to give in," he said.

"Although I couldn't really see where I was going, I could still feel what was happening beneath my skis.

"Armed with this theory, I was hell-bent on skiing to my full potential."

He remembers the "surprise and horror" of his guide when he saw Mr Alderton "short-swing-turning down a steep".

And when he revealed his speed-skiing ambitions, he said: "They just looked at me in amazement with open mouths."

Mr Alderton is part of a British ski team development squad and is hoping to compete for world and European cups.

This week, he will demonstrate his technique at a ski and snowboard show in west London, where visitors will be able to wear special glasses simulating his vision.




SEE ALSO:
Blind men break water-ski record
14 Oct 04 |  Cumbria
Blind ex-serviceman's flight plan
13 Aug 04 |  Bristol/Somerset
Waterskier's long road to recovery
19 May 04 |  Northern Ireland


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific