For those of you not in Canada you probably have never heard of Brian McKeever. I had never heard of him until this weekend. Brian is a cross country skier. His older brother competed for Canada back in the 1998 Olympics. Well, Brian always wanted to compete for Canada in the Olympics also. The problem was and is that Brian McKeever is legally blind. He only has about 10% vision remaining in his eyes.
Brian has competed for Canada in the Paralympics, and was set to be the first person ever to compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics. Yesterday Brian was going to race in the 50km cross country skiing race. In the last Olympic Trials prior to the Olympics, Brian finished first. The Canadian Olympic body has made a big deal about Brian's accomplishments and even had a separate press conference for him prior to the Olympics because the story was so good. Hell, Morgan Freeman narrated an entire Visa commercial about Brian.
Well, on Saturday night, the Canadian cross country team and the Canadian Olympic organization decided that story be damned they were out to win gold medals or any medals on the last day of competition and they dropped him from the race. Despite the fact that no Canadian has ever medaled in the 50km cross country event, and despite the fact only one Canadian really had a shot to medal at the event, they dropped Brian from the race saying that he had no chance to medal. Forget Olympic feel good moments or letting a man who has worked for years try to achieve his dream, medals were of the upmost importance. On Saturday, the day before the race, Brian was told the news. On his Twitter page, you can tell how he felt about the news.
"Olympic dream over. I don't think I've ever been so sad."
In what should have been one of the most uplifting moments of the Games, it instead turned into a quest for medals and an improvement on the medal tables. Brian had proved he could do it. He had won an Olympic Trials event. It didn't matter. I think Canada put on a winter Olympics that was incredible. I don't think I have ever not shown how much I love Canada or the people in it. With the exception of overtime yesterday in hockey, I loved every second of the Games. If Brian had been allowed to compete I think it would have put an amazing cap on one of the best Olympics ever. Instead, it turns out that Olympics are not about effort and heart and individual triumphs over tragedy, but a medal count and numbers. It sucks.
For the record, the Canadians finished 5th, 18th, 32nd and 33rd. So much for adding to that medal count.