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The Feel Good Story of the 2010 Olympics

Friday, January 22, 2010, 17:51 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

When the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver three weeks from today, Team Canada will have a cross-country skier who is legally blind.

Cross Country Canada will announce the Olympic team on Friday but the organization made every indication that [legally blind skier Brian] McKeever’s name will be on the roster.

A statement says “the contingent of athletes will include the world’s first winter-sport athlete who will compete in the Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games in the same year.”

Olympic enthusiasts may recall other Paralympians who have competed in Olympic events — five athletes in total — but all have been involved in summer sports.

[ . . . ]

McKeever began skiing at the age of three and was competing by age 12.

But in 1998, he was diagnosed with Stargaard’s disease, which involves loss of central vision, or as he describes it, “seeing the doughnut but not the Timbit.”

I googled McKeever’s condition and found it is usually spelled “Stargardt’s.” It is a form of juvenile macular degeneration.

The article doesn’t say whether McKeever will be able to use his sighted brother as a guide, as he does in the Paralympics.

In any case, regardless of how he does in the final results, expect this remarkable story to get lots of attention. Unfortunately, as is the case with a lot of the “human interest” stories that come out of the Olympics, most of the coverage will probably be sappy and sentimental rather than just focusing on the facts, which are noteworthy enough without embellishment.

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