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Toronto/South Korea, Mar 13 (Canadian-Media): Brian McKeever, from Canada on the World Cup circuit at PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in the men's 20-kilometre cross-country ski freestyle race, won gold medal on Sunday, alongside guides Graham Nishikawa and Russell Kennedy, media reports said.
Brian McKeever. Image credit: Twitter handle of Sport Canada
One of the older athletes at age 38, McKeever battled against men nearly 20 years his junior, and claimed 14th gold medal in his career, making him Canada's most decorated Winter Paralympian
It was between 1980 and 1994 that the late Lana Spreeman reportedly had won 13 medals in para-alpine skiing.
Twenty years after learning he was losing his eyesight, the Canmore, Alberta based McKeever never lost a step.
"The last lap was very hard," McKeever was reported to state. "I was hurting at the end."
Someone yelled on the final stretch, "Brian, you're a minute ahead." And it was true.
McKeever's gold medal in the men's visually impaired 20 km cross-country skiing event gave him 14 Paralympic medals, the most in Canadian history.
His Paralympic resume reportedly included 11 gold, two silver and one bronze, with more chances for medals to come in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"These guys did a great job of towing me today," McKeever was reported to say after the race. "They took care of me the whole way."
When McKeever was 18 years old he was heart broken to learn that he had Stargardt disease which reportedly had already been wrecking his central vision.
He was reported to say that he could see the doughnut but not the hole.
McKeever was already an accomplished skier at the time and he picked up his spirits by following a new path and switched over to the Canadian Paralympic program.
At age 30, his coach decided to leave him on the sidelines for the men's 50-km race at the 2010 Vancouver Games, B.C.
McKeever was again sad as he felt his dream of racing at both the Olympics and Paralympics being crumbled.
Although dejected, he reportedly once more picked up courage and was able to win three Paralympic gold medals on the Whistler course in Vancouver games.
Four years later, he had to join men's visually impaired one-kilometre race in Sochi with two Russians and one Swede, but McKeever was able to win gold medal there also.
"I always wanted to be part of it," he reportedly told CBC Sports before arriving in Pyeongchang. "Having an older brother [Robin] who went to the Olympics in 1998 in Nagano was just another step along the way. Little brother always wants to be like big brother.
McKeever's vision got worse with his advancing age and he was reported to say that this could be his final Paralympic Games.
But McKeever's golden performance Sunday, according to reports, leads one to believe that he would return for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China.
"I don't know about that," said Nishikawa, 34. "We still have a really busy week ahead of us. But with Brian, nothing would surprise me. It's amazing to be around someone so great at something. Every year, he brings something more. He's just relentless.
"I'm in awe even just hanging out with the guy."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)