Canada’s McKeever equals Paralympic record

Canada's McKeever equals Paralympic record

Canadian Nordic skier Brian McKeever has insisted that Beijing will be his last Winter Paralympics despite a history-equalling 16th gold medal.

The 42-year-old matched Germany’s Gerd Schoenfelder’s record as the most decorated male Winter Paralympian of all time with his win in Saturday’s visually impaired middle distance cross country race.

It was his third gold in Beijing – this one was achieved with Graham Nishikawa after he was guided by Russell Kennedy in his first two races.

“We are still competitive, but I’m breaking down,” said McKeever, who now has 20 Paralympic medals.

“It’s getting harder. There’s a lot more grey hair and a lot more aches and pains. I think if we end up back here trying to race in four years, we’ll be using walking sticks.

“If it wasn’t for good physical therapists, I wouldn’t be standing here, so I think it is time. Call it a soft retiring, I want to fade away slowly.

“It will be nice to take it easy a bit and get out skiing more for fun rather than as a job.

“We’ll probably be back, but probably in more coaching and waxing roles.”

McKeever, who has the degenerative eye condition Stargardt’s disease, has been one of the greats of the sport since making his Games debut in Salt Lake City in 2002 and is unbeaten in individual Winter Paralympic races since Turin in 2006.

He and brother Robin, who acted as his guide up to 2010, starred in a high-profile ad campaign for car company Toyota which first aired during last month’s Super Bowl.

But he played down the fuss over reaching Schonfelder’s record.

“To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t mean a damn thing,” McKeever laughed. “If the records happen to come, great. But that was never the focus.”

McKeever could break Schoenfelder’s mark in Sunday’s team relay – an event where Canada won bronze four years ago.

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