Canadian skier McKeever makes history as all-time male co-leader with 16 Paralympic golds

2022-03-13 12:52:17 Source: Xinhua

Gold medalist Brian McKeever (L) of Canada and his guide Russell Kennedy attend the awarding ceremony for the Para cross-country skiing men's sprint free sision impaired event of Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics in Zhangjiakou, north China's Hebei Province, March 9, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Xi)

Canadian Para cross-country skier Brian McKeever, 42, won his 16th gold to join German former Para Alpine skier Gerd Schonfelder as the most decorated male Paralympian.

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Brian McKeever raced into the history books on Saturday after grabbing his 16th gold at the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, equalling the total gold medal record of German former Para Alpine skier Gerd Schonfelder for the most decorated men's Paralympian.

McKeever won the visually impaired middle distance event after he has already bagged two titles in sprint and long-distance events this week.

With three gold medals pocketed in Chongli, the 42-year-old has accumulated a total of 16 golds spanning six Paralympics since 2002 all from Para cross country, obtaining two twice from Salt Lake City 2002 and Turin 2006, and adding three more each time from 2010 to 2018.

Norwegian cross-country skier Ragnhild Myklebust holds the record as the most successful Winter Paralympian overall -- 22 golds and 27 total medals over five Games from 1988 to 2002.

"Graham (Nishikawa, his guide) did an awesome job. We talked a lot about pacing - pacing at altitude is the most important thing. If you blow up at altitude, you're not coming back," said McKeever, who first tried skiing at the age of three and began competing at age 12.

"The hard work is done in the offseason, we enjoy it. We love it. We love getting lost in the mountains and sometimes dragging our butts home after 10 hours," McKeever said.

Brian McKeever (R) of Canada and Graham Nishikawa compete in the Para cross-country skiing men's middle distance free technique vision impaired final at Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics. (Xinhua/Yang Guanyu)

At age 19, he was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a degenerative eye condition that also affected his father. He has less than 10% vision after inflicted the sickness.

After 20 years of competing at Paralympics as an athlete, McKeever believed it was time to retire after the Beijing Games.

"Over the years, though, we're getting older. There's a lot more grey hair and there's a lot more aches and pains," said McKeever.

"We're breaking down. We (McKeever and his guide Nishikawa) still love getting out together but it's getting harder. I think if we end up back here trying to race in four years, we'll be coming in on canes.

"We'll probably be back, but I'm sure in more coaching and waxing roles, " McKeever quipped.

Brian McKeever (L) of Canada and Graham Nishikawa celebrate the Para cross-country skiing men's middle distance free technique vision impaired final at Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics. (Xinhua/Zhao Zishuo)

McKeever has a chance to win the 17th medal in the relay event Sunday, but he played down the fuss on overtaking Schonfelder's record.

"To be perfectly honest, it doesn't mean a damn thing," McKeever said, laughing. "If the records happen to come, great. But that was never the focus."

"So we'll go out and enjoy it and still make ourselves heard, keep on going and enjoying this beautiful weather we've had and looking forward to finishing on a fun day."

[Editor: 刘品彤 ]
Canadian skier McKeever makes history as all-time male co-leader with 16 Paralympic golds-2022 BEIJING MEDIA CENTER
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