Monday, November 30, 2009
An athlete from Orleans, Ont., has become a world record holder in blind speedskating.
Kevin Frost returned to Canada Thursday after winning four gold medals at the Russian Paralympic Open Blind Cup last week.
Frost skated to gold — and set new world records — in the 500 metre race, the 1,000 metre race, the 1,500 metre race and the 3,000 metre race.
The 42-year-old started speedskating after he was diagnosed with Usher syndrome seven years ago. The rare genetic disorder causes progressive hearing and vision loss.
Frost, who lost most of his hearing as a child, said his vision has deteriorated so much in recent years that he only has four per cent of his tunnel vision left — an experience he compared to looking through two pin holes.
Frost had been a hockey referee for 25 years, and he decided he wanted to stay on the ice, even though his vision was getting worse. He started speedskating after shortly after his diagnosis, counting his strides to help him know when to turn.
He said speedskating became a way to conquer the odds and regain a sense of control.
“Life comes in cycles, and I think it just shows you can just never give up,” Frost said. “It’s all pure determination to show the outside world, the able-bodied world and the disabled blind world, that we can do it.”
Blind speedskating won’t be an event at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympic Games because not enough people are competing in the sport.
But Frost said he hopes it will be included in the 2014 games in Moscow. Frost will be 46 years old by then, but he said he won’t let his age or his disabilities stop him.
“I’ll be there. You know what? I’ll probably be in better shape than ever,” Frost said.