Sprinting for Gold at Callaghan Valley

21 Mar 2010
Brian McKeever

Canada's Brian McKeever looks on after winning the men's visually impaired 20km cross-country skiing race at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

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It was a busy final day at Whistler Paralympic Park with six 1km sprints taking place. Ten countries took home medals and six different countries won gold, displaying the truly international spirit of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

In the Men’s Visually Impaired category, the McKeever brothers from Canada won their third gold medal. It was an exciting race as Brian McKeever (B3) made an unexpected move and dropped his guide and brother, Robin McKeever, while going uphill on the course as he did not want to take the chance of losing his lead. Brian was singled out for his unique technique as he used both poles uphill and used skate-skis.

On skiing without a guide, Brian said, “It was a bit scary when the Russian fell, but I just made a good call and cut inside.”

In the Women’s Visually Impaired race, Germany’s Verena Bentele (B1) with guide Thomas Friedrich took gold once again, making this her fifth gold medal at the Games. She has won gold in every race she has competed in at Paralympic Park.

“This is the best Games for me. This is very, very special. It is a dream,” she remarked.

In the Women’s Standing 1km, Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova (LW8) won the gold medal. Japan’s Shoko Ota (LW8) followed in second place and Russia’s Anna Burmistrova came in third (LW8). In the Men’s Standing 1km, Japan’s Yoshihiro Nitta (LW8) won his second gold medal of the Games. Russian Kirill Mikhaylov (LW4) won the silver medal and Finland’s Ilkka Tuomisto (LW8) took the bronze medal.

In the Men’s 1km Sitting category, the Russians dominated the podium with Sergey Shilov (LW10) taking first place, followed by Irek Zaripov (LW12) and Vladmir Kiselev (LW12). In the Women’s 1km Sitting category, Italy’s Francesca Porcellato (LW10) won the first gold medal for Italy, with Ukraine’s Olena Iurkovska (LW12) taking silver and Belarus’s Liudmila Vauchok taking the bronze.

After winning the gold medal, Porcellato said, “Today is the anniversary of my incident, and I wanted to give myself a gift. Every gold medal is beautiful. I still don’t believe it. I wanted this medal so much, it is unreal, and now I have it.”