Monday, March 01, 2010

Brian McKeever Story


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.

31 comments:

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

So, the Olympics are about making people feel good as opposed to winning medals. Why have medals in the first place then? Also, the "Own the Podium" has been a major issue here and, a joke in America, yes?, so what are we supposed to do? Just roll over and be stereotypically Canadian? They wanted medals, they did what they thought was right to achieve that end, and they failed. See you in Sochi, Brian.

Ms Cool said...

I have to agree with Sue Ellen. As much as I feel for Brian McKeever, I think that there are other Olympians who have dreams, too. The best athletes should be the ones competing. He asked that he not be treated differently and he wasn't.

Jingle Belle said...

I'm proudly Canadian but not proud of this. He earned his right to compete in that race and they should have let him. The Canadian Olympic Committee let the greed for gold cloud their judgement. The sad part is, he might just have won that gold but now we'll never know.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

I would also like to say that the guy who came in 5th was in a photo finish for 4th and was with the lead pack in 2nd or 3rd for a long time. The times for the winner through the first 5 were less than a second, and just over a second apart, so it's not like he was dead last or lagging.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

@Jingle Belle

He was an alternate on the team, not a starter.

Linnea said...

But was he or was he not faster than the others? Did he have a chance in the race? I mean, if he did have a chance it would seem strange that they kicked him out.

Also, don´t tell him he is going to get to compete and then pull it last minute. Didnt they want to win gold medals at the time that they told him he could compete?

jax said...

as much as i understand why people wanted him to race the thing is THIS:

there was only 4 spots available,someone was going to be told no at some point and Brian knew this.that was the plan all along.

second, the visibility was 30feet max that day. DUDE COULD NOT SEE.

third, he can compete in the paralympics.

fourth and last. why should we pull someone else who is on the team from competing in the ONLY games he is eligible for, to let someone sight impaired take his spot when he has the opp to compete in his own games as well?

trading one person's dream for another, Mister Treat Me Like Everyone Else.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

I don't know if they said he was going to compete. He certainly had a *chance* to compete by being on the team. I think it was a day before decision.

shakey said...

Maybe in the beginning they thought no way is this guy going to come close to qualifying. Then he blew them away and they got nervous.

Hypocrisy at its finest. Canada is not immune.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

3 out of 4 Canadians agree. Not a big deal.

jax said...

i think most people saw the headline and didn't go for the facts.

"alternate" is not a guarantee to compete in anything.

and you cannot tell me this guy would even BE on the US team, so don't make this a slight on Canada.

Jingle Belle said...

They certainly pushed him on the public beforehand. It seems that they were using him as a marketing tool. The whole thing just seems shady.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

They pushed Patrick Chan in the media too and he came in 5th, so...

Pookie said...

awww...poor guy. but at the end of the day, what an honor to be competing for his home land in the first place. i hope he doesn't lose sight (no pun, i swear) of that.

devix said...

Thank you jax! You said everything I wanted to say!

kimmypie1 said...

Let's not turn this into a US vs Canada thing. Boys and girls, play nice!

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

Oh, so it's only o.k when we're the ones taking it? The tables have turned and they don't like it. Big surprise!

dj said...

if he never wanted special treatment, then he got it. according to the articles i've read, the other guys were posting the better times and they had an Olympic dream too.

jax said...

no i mean we're too 'nice' to say No the first time,not a US thing.

califblondy said...

I remember when it was a big enough thrill to compete and to win ANY medal. Now it's all about the gold for every country.

Overall, this one of the best winter games I remember seeing. Lots of drama and great competition in so many events. No one could have scripted a better hockey game. Sure, I wished we would have pulled it out, but I'd like to see the Raiders win another Super Bowl and even I know that's not happening any time soon.

sickle said...

I'm with jax and the others on here. The coach of the team even said something along the lines of "we have to tell someone they aren't racing tomorrow. it sucks." It's not like they made the decision lightly. They gave the fastest people the opportunity.

Question: Is the 50km cross-country event a "team" thing like the Tour de France? From some of the commentary on it, it seemed that the other Canadians on the team were supposed to be helping out the guy who ended up in 5th. I'm not sure how or anything like that, but that's sort of the impression I got, and if that's the case than it's even more reason to put the best team possible in the games.

Sucks that Brian couldn't compete, but if you don't want special treatment then it's going to be based on who's the best/fastest.

(Yes, I'm Canadian)

Majik said...

Agree with Sue Ellen, et al....but I also agree that they shouldn't have mislead everyone--the media/Canadian Olympic committee, etc. was touting poor Brian as THE story, knowing that there was always the chance that he wouldn't compete.

The real story of the games for me was Joannie Rochette.

Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

I agree with Majik. Joannie Rochette embodies the true spirit of an Olympic athelete.

Pinky said...

@ Sue Ellen Mishkey
"the "Own the Podium" has been ... a joke in America, yes?"

Admittedly, I have a rather strong pro-canada bias (I love the country & the people, and vacation there as often as possible), but I really felt like americans were pulling for the canadians to do well. And 'well' they did - I think the gold medal count alone makes the program a success.

Just my two cents . . .

empyrios said...

it wasn't about winning medals, it was about putting the 4 best skiers in the race.

you can't expect a coach to make a decision based on emotion over facts.

they knew it wouldn't be a popular decision when they did it but it's not fair to the other competitors to just put the guy in for some "feel good story".

i'd expect you to research your stories better Ent. Seriously.

empyrios said...
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empyrios said...
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Sue Ellen Mishkey said...

@Pinky

I watched bits of the Olympics on American channels and they had a running joke about us owning the podium, but they were renting it.
:(

RocketQueen said...

jax said it all.

The guy was an alternate and for what it's worth, I don't see why people should be able to compete in both the Olympics AND Paralympics. One or the other.

It was the right decision.

Anon said...

I'm from Vancouver. What actually happened is that all of the other team members had placed higher in world cup events. To be fair to all of the athletes, the coach picked the top 4. This has nothing to do with medals- Canada wasn't going to place anyways. It was about treating everyone equally.

schneefloeckli said...

He'd only be the first to compete in the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics. There have been five athletes who have competed at both the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games before him.

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