Cross-country skier Brian McKeever has won Canada their second gold medal so far in the Sochi 2014 games in what must be the best performance of his Paralympic career.
The 34-year-old got tangled up with Russia’s Vladimir Udaltcov near the start of the race and fell to the snow, which would’ve surely put him out of the running in the 1km sprint on Wednesday. But McKeever and his guide, Graham Nishikawa, pushed through the complication, speeding past Udalcov and fellow Russian Oleg Ponomarev for second. He then overtook Swedish athlete Zebastian Modin in the final stretch, finishing with a time of 3:59.6. Modin claimed silver, just 1.8 seconds behind McKeever, and Ponomarev won bronze.
“It wouldn’t be right for me to tell you what I said in my head, but once the cuss words were out, the only thing you can do is get back up and race,” said McKeever. “I thought we were clear, but that is normal and it happens in sprinting when you are all fighting and tight.
Everyone is going flat out. It is intense and everyone is at their limit. We are just fortunate it happened in the first 200 meters and not at the end so we had time to catch up.”
Nishikawa also admitted to feeling a rush of panic when he saw McKeever tumble.
“It wasn’t until we got back up around the Russians and had the Swedes in sight that I felt a huge relief,” he said.
McKeever also won the first gold medal for Canada in men’s 20km visually impaired cross-country race on Monday, and if the Canadian athlete wins gold in his final cross-country event on March 15th, he will become the first Canadian who ever won 10 gold medals in their Winter Paralympic career.
In the meantime, alpine sit-skier Kimberly Joins of Rossland, British Columbia, finished second in the women’s slalom, although the results are still unofficial after a German skier exhorted her disqualification from her first run. A final decision is expected Thursday morning about the situation.
Not including the medal for Joins, Canada has a total of 8 medals so far (two gold, two silver and four bronze) and sits fourth in the overall rankings, after Russia, Germany and Ukraine.
Image sources: thestar.com
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