Soldier blinded in gang attack claims world skiing record

It is a precipitous French piste dubbed the "Flying Kilometre" that can fill the most experienced skier with undiluted terror. But a blind former soldier, Kevin "The Cannonball" Alderton, hurtled down the Les Arcs slope at more than 100mph yesterday to set a new world record for a blind person.

Mr Alderton, 34, who has four per cent vision after losing his sight in 1998, hit a top speed of 100.94mph, completing the 1.1-mile slope in two minutes 21 seconds at nearly twice the speed of the previous record.

"I feel absolutely amazing. It just goes to show disability is no barrier to achievement, be it the ordinary or the extraordinary," he said.

"I have between four and six per cent vision but why should that stop me doing anything? It's an inconvenience rather than a disability for me. The sky really is the limit."

Mr Alderton, from Dartford, Kent, who was a keen skier while serving with the Grenadier Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company, was guided by a "shadow" skier who relayed instructions to him through an earpiece in his helmet as he made the descent.

Mr Alderton, married with a son who is nearly two, lost his sight after being attacked by a gang while trying to help a woman being assaulted.

The group of about 30 men punched and kicked him to the ground in the incident in Islington, north London, after which he suffered detached retinas, dislodged lenses and a split cornea. He said he contemplated taking his life after the attack.

Mr Alderton, who resumed skiing shortly after the assault, has since been selected for the Great Britain Adaptive Ski Team Development Squad and hopes to compete in the World Championships in 2008 and the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.

He became involved with the St Dunstan's charity, which helps blind ex-serviceman, through which he met Billy Baxter, who set a world record for riding solo on a motorbike at 164mph.

Mr Alderton, who began skiing aged eight, said his friendship with Mr Baxter had inspired him to get back on the slopes. "I became hell-bent on skiing to my full potential and thought, 'What if I could set a speed record?'"

He added that he became determined not to let the disability impede his life.

"What saved me was St Dunstan's and being determined not to let my disability stop me achieving things. If I can inspire somebody to do something they would not normally do, my aims have been achieved.

"Of course, I would like to have my sight - but if I can help other people realise that being blind is not the end of your life, that means a lot."

His skiing team, which included Sgt Vicky Caress and Major Neil Graham, started training on dry ski-slopes last year. Sgt Caress, who was Mr Alderton's guide during the challenge, admitted she felt nervous minutes before he undertook the attempt.

"Kevin had a lot of trust in me and wanted me to act as his guide. I felt very nervous but if Kev was going to do it then I couldn't really make an excuse," Sgt Caress said.

Mr Alderton travelled to Les Arcs in January to begin his training with Norman Clark, his coach and a member of the British speed skiing team.

News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Developer - London - £45k

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: PeopleSoft Application Support & Development ...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003