Sports » Features

Paralympics are Canada’s best ever

Woolstencroft wins five gold medals, McKeevers three

by

comment

Page 8 of 9

While Brian McKeever has Stargardt's Disease and about 10 per cent of normal vision, he could see the course well enough to know where he needed to be at all times.

The other Canadian cross-country skier on the podium was Colette Bourgonje, a 48-year-old veteran of both summer and winter Paralympic Games (her ninth) who won a surprise silver medal in the women's 10 km sitting race and a bronze in the 5 km sitting.

In the men's standing category, Mark Arendz had a solid week with a 12 th place finish in the 10 km classic and a ninth place finish in the sprints - missing the finals by a fraction of a second.

Whistler's Tyler Mosher was 23 rd in the 10 km race and 21 st in the sprint. While he was disappointed not to do better, he took some consolation in the fact that he made the Games - something that was not assured a year ago - and that he beat some of the athletes who usually finished ahead of him.

"It's pretty unbelievable to race in an event like this where the top guys can compete with the top guys in able-bodied," said Mosher.

"It was so hard to get here, losing weight, getting in shape. I just don't have the right disability for it or the percentage."

While Mosher is classified as an "incomplete paraplegic" and has limited mobility below the waist, the unique nature of his injury means that he competes in the standing category against people who have full or partial mobility. While the classification system does attempt to compensate, Mosher says in the end it's like "comparing fruits in a bowl versus apples to apples."

Years of training to get to the Paralympics instilled in Mosher a huge respect for Paralympic cross-country skiing.

"What a journey. It took seven years to get here, and to me that's gold in itself," he said. "Cross-country skiing is so difficult. It might have been easier (to make the Paralympics) in a another sport, but I took up cross-country because it was a major challenge, and to be honest I didn't really think I'd even make it - but I did okay and beat a lot of guys that usually beat me.

"Some of these guys were on their junior national teams and have grown up skiing, and they're really good," Mosher added. "It's kind of like me with snowboarding. I'm actually pretty disabled to be snowboarding, but because I'd done it before - and with my coaching and the classification system - I'm pretty hard to beat right now."

Add a comment