Did you know that having a disability does not stop you from becoming an Olympian? Brian McKeever, from Alberta, Canada, is a cross country skier, and although he is legally blind, he qualified to be on the Canadian Olympic Team.
Brian started losing his sight at the age of 12. He was diagnosed with Stargadt’s disease, an inherited form of macular degeneration that affects the central vision. Two years later, he was classified as legally blind. Currently Brian only has 10 percent of his vision, all peripheral.
When Brian was a child he dreamed of representing Canada in the Olympics. As his eyesight deteriorated he traded his Olympic dream for a Paralympic dream. Brian was a four-time gold medalist in the Paralympics, competing in the men’s 5km, 10km, 20km, 7.5km and 12.5km biathlon. Before Brian races he watches a video of the course and commits it to memory. He has to focus his vision away from the part of the screen he wants to watch because of his central vision loss. When coming to the corners in a race, he must slow down to know where he is going.
This year Brian focused on the Winter Olympics. He qualified for the Canadian team by winning an able-bodied 50km race in January. He spent almost four years preparing for this race! Unfortunately, 11 hours before he was supposed to race, his coach substituted another teammate for him. But Brian still considered it an honor to be part of Canadian Olympic team.
When it comes to skiing, nothing holds Brian back from achieving his goals. Brian is an outstanding athlete and an extremely determined person. Brian McKeever inspires everyone to work through their disabilities and to pursue their dreams.
Anne Moruzzi is a fourth-grader at Okte Elementary