A FORMER Fenland pub landlord, blinded by muggers, is set to make history as the first man to set a world blind speed skiing record. Kevin Cannonball" Alderton, 34, is in Les Arcs, France, where he will attempt to set a blind speed skiing record of more
A FORMER Fenland pub landlord, blinded by muggers, is set to make history as the first man to set a world blind speed skiing record.Kevin "Cannonball" Alderton, 34, is in Les Arcs, France, where he will attempt to set a blind speed skiing record of more than 120mph.Next month, he will be guided down the Flying Kilometre by radio link and, in setting a world record, he hopes to raise more than £100,000 for St Dunstan's, a charity for blind ex-service people that helped Kevin to rebuild his life."I have been training in Les Arcs for months, working on building speed and developing my technique," said Kevin. "It has gone well and I have been getting quicker and more confident. By the time I get to the record attempt I will be really going for it, and reaching 200kph would be a great result."Until 2002, Kevin was landlord of the Anchor at Wimblington, but he now lives in his home town of Dartford, Kent, with his wife Sue and children Laura and Samuel. Several members of his family still live in Fenland, including his mother, Pat, who lives in Wimblington Road, Doddington.Kevin was born with cataracts and had more than 12 eye operations to help improve his sight. At the age of eight, he began skiing and, on leaving school, joined the Army, serving with the Honourable Artillery Company and Grenadier Guards for 12 years.He became a military ski instructor and competed all over Europe as a member of his unit's race team. However, his life was turned upside down in May 1998. During a night out with a friend in North London, Kevin went to the aid of a woman being assaulted in the street. But, as he attempted to help, he was set upon by a gang of men who inflicted such serious injuries to his eyes that both retinas were detached and he was left with only four per cent vision.Kevin said: "I was devastated to say the least and felt that my world had completely collapsed. The next three years saw an all-time low for me. I had hit rock bottom, with no wish to take part in life or what it had to offer - but then along came St Dunstan's."With the support of St Dunstan's, Kevin picked up the pieces and became a disability sports development officer with Kent County Council. He also joined a ski club where he rediscovered the sport and became a successful competition skier and a member of the British Adaptive Ski Team.Before Christmas, he was on the European Cup circuit and his performances were rewarded with the BBC South East Disabled Sports Person of the Year trophy.Since then he has been training for his record attempt, which he hopes to achieve during three key races next month on the Flying Kilometre in the French Alps.Conditions permitting, Kevin will compete in the Red Rock Cup race over the weekend of April 8/9 and set the first blind speed skiing record.He will then compete against able-bodied racers in the Open Gliss event the following weekend, and he aims to finish in the top five. Kevin said: "I hope to reach a speed of about 100mph during the Red Rock and that will set me up nicely for the Open Gliss. Here, I will be starting at the same point as the able-bodied skiers and I am aiming to beat them all."If all goes well, Kevin will not only improve on his world record, but he will also finish in the top 10.This will qualify him for the third and final race, seven days later - the awesome Pro Mondial.There Kevin will be attempting to set a final record. However, completion of the race will also mean he joins a select group of able-bodied skiers to become one of the world's top 40 speed skiers."I am going out to record as high a speed as I possibly can so that anyone considering challenging the record will think twice," he said.During training in December, Kevin recorded speeds or more than 60mph but the prospect of travelling twice as fast does not deter him.He said: "Skiing at speed is an incredible sensation. I can only see shadows but I can feel what is happening through the skis. "The sense of acceleration is incredible but once you are at high speed all you are aware of is the wind rushing past your ears."Kevin has been trained by national skiing team coach Norman Clark, and his guide during the races will be Kate Tovar, a British skiing instructor based in Les Arcs."Kate will be issuing a constant stream of radio instructions to guide me down the mountain," he said. "In a way, I have an advantage over able-bodied skiers because I am always looking at my feet. This helps me to keep a consistent body position and become more streamlined."Following Les Arcs, Kevin will resume European Cup races with a view of qualifying for the World Cup, the 2008 World Championships and ultimately, the 2010 Paralympics squad.