The legendary cross-country skier won his third gold medal of the Games in his final event on Sunday, taking the crown in the men’s visually impaired 10 km race, becoming the first Canadian Winter Paralympian to win 10 gold medals in a career.
It wasn’t as dramatic as the men’s 1 km sprint, but it was still another come-from-behind win for McKeever in the 10K. The Canmore, Alta., native saw Russian rival Stanislav Chokhlaev leading up until the final kilometre of the race, but made a furious dash to the finish and overcame an eight-second deficit for the victory.
McKeever ended up winning in a time of 23 minutes, 18.1 seconds, seven seconds ahead of Chokhlaev in the silver medal spot. Like the 20K, McKeever used two guides in 10 km race, with Erik Carleton and Graham Nishikawa switching halfway in order to keep the pace high, which paid dividends in the final kilometre when he was able to overtake Chokhlaev.
France’s Thomas Clarion won the bronze, well back of the pair with a time of 24:14.9.
Sochi was another golden Games for McKeever, who won gold medals in three of the four events he competed in, and was only one spot away from another podium finish in the cross-country relay with teammate Chris Klebl.
The 10 km victory Sunday earned him a sweep of the individual cross-country competitions in the visually impaired category, a feat he also accomplished in the Vancouver 2010 Games.
His victory in the 1 km sprint in Sochi will be talked about for years to come, as he overcame a fall at the start of the race to dramatically win gold, overtaking Swede Zebastian Modin on the final bend to win it. He was more dominant in the 20 km race, as he took that title by over one minute, again ahead of Chokhlaev.
With his three gold medals, which makes up half of Canada’s overall total in the category in Sochi, McKeever must be the front-runner to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies, which would be the second time in his career that he’s done so, receiving the honour in 2002.
His 10 gold medals matches a feat accomplished by Canadian Summer Paralympians Chantal Petitclerc, Michael Edgson and Timothy McIsaac.
McKeever now has 13 medals in his Paralympic career, and he may well add to that total in 2018 – though he’ll be 38 years old by the time the Paralympics in South Korea roll along, he’s said multiple times during the Games this week that if he’s able to ski, he’ll compete.
Aleksandr Pronkov led a Russian sweep in the standing 10 km category, narrowly beating countryman Vladimir Kononov by 0.8 seconds. Vladislav Lekomtcev took the bronze, as Russians occupied the top five spots in the race.
Mark Arendz of Hartsville, P.E.I., started strong but faded as the race wore on, finishing in 11th. He will leave Sochi with two medals – silver in the 7.5 km biathlon, and bronze in the 12.5 km biathlon. Louis Fortin of Fredericton was 36th.
Also on HuffPost