Brian McKeever, Sonja Gaudet up for Paralympics award

Canadians Brian McKeever and Sonja Gaudet are among the six athletes short-listed for the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, given to the man and woman who best exemplify the Paralympic spirit.

Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award recognizes excellence, resilience

Canada’s Brian McKeever and Sonja Gaudet are on the shortlist for the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for outstanding performance and overcoming adversity, Sochi organizers announced Friday.

McKeever, a cross-country skier, was nominated for his resilience and excellent results — including two golds in Sochi — since losing his vision at the age of 19.

Gaudet was named because she is the world’s most decorated wheelchair curler, and has helped Canada win gold at each Paralympics since curling was introduced in 2006.

They join two Russians, an Australian and a Dutch athlete in competition for the award, which is presented at every Summer and Winter Games.

The other nominees include:

  • Russia’s Mikhalina Lysova, a visually impaired skier, and sit-skier Roman Petushkov, who together have won eight gold medals in biathlon and cross-country skiing in Sochi.
  • Bibian Mentel-Spee of the Netherlands, who campaigned hard to have snowboarding included in the Games and went on to win its first gold medal.
  • Australian alpine skier Toby Kane, who was thrown into a key leadership role on his national team after teammate Matthew Robinson tragically died following a snowboarding accident in February.

The award is given to the one man and one woman “who best exemplify the spirit of the Games and inspire and excite the world,” according to the Paralympic News Service.

Winners will be announced on Saturday and will be honoured during the closing ceremony of the Sochi Paralympics on Sunday.