New Zealand will be represented by a team of
five racers at the 1998 Paralympics in
Nagano, Japan, after a team member had to
withdraw due to illness.
racer Kevin Aleksich (31) was forced to
withdraw from the Winter Paralympics because
of Hepatitis C. Ranked sixth in the world,
Aleksich was a strong medal chance. The
Queenstown skier trained and raced in Europe
"It's frustrating, especially after all
the preparation I did last year, I know I'm
up there," he said. Hepatitis C has sapped
Aleksich's strength, making it impossible
for him to train for top international
Aleksich grew up in Tauranga and his left
leg was amputated above the knee, 10 years
ago, due to cancer. His present problems
stem from that operation at Tauranga, as the
infection came from a blood transfusion.
Aleksich can no longer work as a plumber
and gas fitter in Queenstown.
"I need at least 10 hours sleep a night,"
he said. "I was coming home from work,
having a shower and then falling asleep on
It took Aleksich nearly two years to
recover after his amputation. Life took on
new meaning when he started skiing in 1992.
At his first Paralympics in Norway, 1994, he
Since then his international career has
blossomed. Last year he won the Swiss Super
G title when competing on the World Cup
Despite his latest setback, Aleksich
remains optimistic. He says he just wants to
start his liver treatment and get on with
The team going to Nagano in March is
Rachael Battersby, Mathew Butson, Kevin
O'Sullivan, Steven Bayley, Suzanne Walker
and her guide David Gardiner.