Brian McKeever and Graham Nishikawa celebrate after winning gold in the visually impaired 10-km race at the 2018 Paralympics on March 16. (Bob Nishikawa/Submitted)

Brian McKeever wins third gold medal of 2018 Paralympics

‘Today was all about teamwork’

Brian McKeever won another gold medal at the 2018 Paralympics on March 17, this time in the visually-impaired 10-km classic race.

This marked the third time McKeever has won gold in all three men’s individual cross-country races at the Paralympics.

Earlier in the competition, McKeever won the visually impaired 20-kilometre race and the visually impaired 1.5-kilometre class sprint.

Utilizing the same two-guide strategy that was successful in the 20-kilometre race, Whitehorse’s Graham Nishikawa led McKeever for the opening half of the race.

Already in second place and just four seconds behind the leader, McKeever and Nishikawa took the lead from Sweden’s Zebastian Modin at the midway point in the race.

Russell Kennedy took over for Nishikawa for the final four kilometres and the Canadians were still in the lead when Modin, skiing in second, fell and withdrew from the race.

McKeever and Kennedy crossed the finish line in a time of 23 minute and 17.8 seconds to win gold.

American Jake Adicoff finished second in 24 minutes and 31.3 seconds, one minute and 13.5 seconds behind McKeever. Belarusian Yury Holub finished third in 24 minutes and 37.1 seconds.

After the race, McKeever said it was a group effort to win gold.

“Today was all about teamwork. There was a huge temperature change so we were out very early as a team testing new skis with our wax techs for 90 minutes before the race even started,” said McKeever. “It was a huge effort by everyone today.”

McKeever also expressed concern for Modin.

“Zebastian had a pretty hard crash and I’m most concerned about him because he is a very good friend and you don’t want to win that way,” said McKeever.

McKeever also won a bronze medal in the four by 2.5-kilometre open relay with sit-skier Collin Cameron on March 18, with Nishikawa guiding for one leg and Kennedy for the other.

All told, McKeever has 13 Paralympic gold medals and 17 Paralympic medals.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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