Brian McKeever named Canada's flag-bearer for Paralympics opening ceremony
Cross-country skier owns 13 Winter Games medals, including bronze in biathlon, and is 1 away from record
Thirteen-time Paralympic medallist Brian McKeever has been named Canada's flag-bearer for Friday's opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"It's always an honour to represent Canada, and to do it at the Paralympics is why I have kept going with my career," the decorated athlete said.
McKeever will lead 54 other Canadian Paralympians — the country's largest-ever Winter Games contingent — into the stadium for the opening ceremony. The ceremony will be broadcast starting with a pre-show on CBC at 5:30 a.m. ET. The ceremony itself starts at 6 a.m. A prime-time broadcast will also air again on CBC at 8 p.m.
"It is a privilege to lead these great Canadians into the stadium and it is a responsibility I won't take lightly," McKeever said.
"As athletes we live our lives in four-year chunks and I'm thrilled to be here. To be able to lead Canada into the opening ceremony is a wonderful thing."
McKeever owns 10 cross-country skiing gold medals — along with two silvers and a biathlon bronze — dating back to his Paralympic debut in Salt Lake City in 2002. The 38-year-old from Canmore, Alta., can surpass alpine skier Lana Spreeman as Canada's most decorated Winter Paralympian with a podium finish in Pyeongchang.
At the Sochi Games four years ago, McKeever earned three golds with guides Erik Carleton (two) and Graham Nishikawa (one). He now competes with Nishikawa, with the pair joining Mark Arendz and Emily Young to win a historic open relay bronze at the world championships last February.
"It's a big honour, it's a big deal," McKeever said of being named flag-bearer. "The timing was good, it's the end of my career, so it's all these things kind of coming together. So it is pretty exciting to have the opportunity."
'We want all of Canada to know who he is'
The Games in Pyeongchang will be McKeever's fifth; he was the closing ceremony flag-bearer in 2002 and also qualified to compete at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, but the cross-country coaches opted to enter four other skiers in the men's 50-kilometre race.
"Brian is one of those athletes we want all of Canada to know who he is and what he has been able to accomplish as a Canadian Paralympian," said Todd Nicholson, Canada's chef de mission.
With files from The Canadian Press