Brian McKeever, of Canmore, Alta., made history in 2010 when he was named to the Olympic and Paralympic teams. Though he didn’t start at the Olympic races in Whistler, B.C., a month later he collected three gold medals at the Paralympics. In total, he has won 10 Paralympic medals in three Games, including seven gold; he has won nine world championship titles and 21 World Cup races.
Brian overcame some big challenges heading into the 2010 Vancouver Games. In October 2008, he suffered a micro-fracture in his rib and in March 2009 broke his left humerus (upper arm) in a crash at the Canadian championships. In the 2010-11 season, he won gold in the 10K, 20K and sprint.
In 2012-13, Brian reasserted his dominance on the international stage with his new guide Erik Carleton, capturing the IPC Cross-Country Skiing World cup title for athletes with a visual impairment. He also shone at the 2013 IPC Nordic Skiing World Championships, winning two more gold medals in the cross-country long distance freestyle and sprint events.
Brian, 34, also races on the able-bodied and Para-nordic World Cup circuits. One of his able-bodied competition highlights was a 21st place in the 15-kilometre freestyle at the 2007 FIS World Championships in Sapporo, Japan. He was first overall in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 World Cup men’s blind rankings.
He was 19 when he diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a macular degeneration or loss of central vision – fine detail and colour – that had also afflicted his father. “If you stare at the sun for a long time and turn away, you get these fuzzy spots. Well for me, the fuzzy spots don’t go away,” said Brian, describing his vision.
One of his idols is U.S. distance runner Marla Runyan, who also has Stargardt disease. She competed at the Olympic Games in 2000 and Paralympic Games in 1992 and 1996.
Courtesy of the Canadian Paralympic Committee