Canada’s Silent Shame

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: March 1, 2010

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — As the Vancouver Winter Games came to a Sunday night closing there was a lingering question.

Are the games for the athletes competing with each other or is it about winning the medals? The Canadian Team seemed to have answered that question Sunday morning, especially involving one of their own veteran athletes.

Brian McKeever was not allowed to ski for his beloved Canada Sunday. McKeever participated in Torin, Italy and won medals, he skied in Calgary and won medals for Team Canada but on this afternoon it would not happen.

Canada’s motto during these games was “Own The Podium”. Reflecting on Sunday’s events, Team Canada should have given the podium away.

McKeever competes in the 10k and 50k cross country races and is very proficient in both. He practices and skis with his brother, Robin, who now guides him around the course.

He’s legally blind but he still is able to participate in the event that he loves most skiing. In 2006, he won gold in the men’s 10k cross country race with his brother in the Paralympics games.

McKeever earned a spot on the 2010 Canadian Winter Olympic Team. If he had skiied Sunday morning he would have been the first disabled athlete to compete in both the Paralympics and Olympic Winter Games.

The Canadian people had embraced this idea many months ago, so what happened? Priorities changed.

As the games progressed, the Canadian team started counting medals. The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) really wanted the podium, thus the opportunity for McKeever began to slip away.

The Canadian team had already clinched a number of Gold medals Saturday night so what was the point?

McKeever, like many other disabled individuals got marginalized in society and around the world. The COC went with the corporate decision rather then the human decision.

Coach Braten could see the opportunity of winning another gold medal and dropped Brian from the team. It would have been a fantastic human story to have a disabled athlete end the outdoor rendition of the games.

They may not have won but the Canadian team would have been in the sports record books forever and would have stroke a blow for independence and inclusion of disabled athletes.

What is most troubling about this story is that many years from now no one will remember who won the 50k race. But many will remember how the COC treated an athlete that gave four years of his life for his country, just to sit and watch the race.

The other sad note is that the home team made this dreadful decision. Only a few television news agencies broadcasted this story and more should have. Where were you, ESPN?

Good luck, Mr. McKeever in your competition at the Paralympics Games two weeks from now. We will be cheering for you, and yes we’ve got your back.