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Blind skier Brian McKeever makes Olympic history

Canadian skier Brian McKeever
McKeever's victory puts him in line for a Paralympic place

Blind skier Brian McKeever has become the first man to be picked for a Winter Olympics and a Paralympics in the same year as he was named in Canada's team.

The four-time Paralympic gold medallist won an able-bodied 50km cross-country race last month to ensure his eligibility for Canada's Olympic team.

He has Stargardt's disease and has less than 10% vision - all of it peripheral.

As a Paralympian the 30-year-old McKeever has a guide, but as an able-bodied skier he will race alone.

McKeever's guide is his elder brother Robin, who was a member of the 1998 Olympic team and finished eighth in Tuesday's race.

The younger McKeever began skiing at the age of 13 before he started losing his sight aged 19 .

606: DEBATE

In the last two Paralympics the two brothers won two golds and a silver in Salt Lake City in 2002 and repeated the feat in Torino with gold in the 5km and 10km and silver in the 20km, also adding a bronze in the biathlon.

"It's important for people to know the Paralympics is as high as it gets," said McKeever, who after racing for Canada in next month's Vancouver Games, will then compete in the Paralympic Winter Games in March.

"It's the Olympic Games for people with physical disabilities and I hope people will realise through my story the gap is not that big.

"Just because somebody has a disability doesn't mean they are not training hard or are extremely fit.

"I think the Paralympics is a great product. We have something worth watching and I hope my story will bring more attention to that."

Three years ago, Brian finished 21st in an able-bodied men's 15km race at the 2007 World Championships.

Five athletes - all in summer sports - have competed in the Paralympics and Olympics - South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, American runner Marla Runyan, Polish table tennis player Natalia Partyka, Italian archer Paola Fantato and New Zealand archer Neroli Fairhall.



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see also
Du Toit powers way to fifth gold
14 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Paralympic challengers: Natalie du Toit
02 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Ten to watch: Natalie du Toit
05 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Du Toit to make history at Games
13 Jun 08 |  Swimming


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