With over a decade of experience, Kurt Fearnley’s wheelchair racing career is as impressive as it is extensive. He has won New York, Sydney, Paris, London, Seoul and Chicago marathons; three gold, seven silver and three bronze medals across five Paralympic Games; and four gold and one bronze at World Championships, as well as currently sitting on the International Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council.
Born without the lower portion of his spine, Kurt took up wheelchair racing when he was 14-years-old. His indomitable spirit saw him go from pushing his wheelchair as fast as he could down the grass track at school athletics carnivals to pushing it the last five kilometres of the 2004 Paralympic marathon on a flat tyre to claim gold.
Unfortunately, Kurt’s 2008 Paralympic campaign was not the one he had dreamt of, winning silver in the 800m and 5000m and bronze in the 1500m, before defending his title and pushing to gold in the marathon. However, just two months later he won the New York marathon, becoming the first and only person to date in his division to win the race three times.
Kurt captivated the Australian public in 2009 when he successfully crawled the 96km Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, and in 2011 he was chosen as a celebrity crew member on the winning yacht in the Sydney–Hobart Yacht Race.
At the London Paralympics Kurt grabbed silver in the 5000m and bronze in the marathon by 0.01 of a second, behind keen rival and host country favourite David Weir.
Fighting a virus in the days before the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Kurt crossed for silver in the 1500m, and in November he won his fifth New York Marathon.
Kurt was selected as co-captain of the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team, representing his country proudly in 1500m, 5000m, and marathon. He won bronze in the 5000m and his last race in his Paralympic career, he won silver, beaten by one second for gold.
In the lead-up to the 2017 London Para-athletics world championships, twice pushed under the 5000m world record to place fourth, breaking the Australian record before placing sixth in the 1500m and 5000m events at the world champs.
A strong domestic season and second place in the T54 1500m at the 2018 Australian Championships locked up selection for the Commonwealth Games. “I had this in my calendar since I was part of the bid process in 2011,” said Fearnley. “I sat down with Sheridan (his wife) and said that this will be my last run”. Kurt will also compete in the marathon and was named as co-captain of the Australian team.