Beijing 2008: Kurt Fearnley – wheelchair racing
Kurt Fearnley AO is one of Australia’s most recognised and successful athletes.
Fearnley won an impressive 13 medals across 5 Paralympics wheelchair racing events from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016 – 3 of them gold.
He was born with sacral agenesis which means he is missing parts of his lower spine and all of his sacrum. A keen sportsperson from a young age, he took up wheelchair racing at age 14. He competed in the T54 classification in a variety of events including 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m, marathon and the 4 x 100 m relay.
Fearnley famously crawled the Kokoda Track in 2009 in support of the Movember and Beyond Blue charities. He completed the 96 km journey in 10 days.
In 2018 Fearnley received the Don Award – named after Sir Donald Bradman – which recognises sporting achievement that has inspired the people of Australia. He was the first person with a disability to receive the award.
This clip is typical of an end-of-bulletin sport’s round-up, clocking in at under 30 seconds. But what it lacks in length and detail, it makes up for by packing in multiple gold medal wins at the Beijing 2008 Games, delivering the adrenaline boost viewers have come to associate with Olympic and Paralympic sports coverage.
In addition to Fearnley’s heroic win in the marathon, we see a triumphant Troy Sachs and the men’s basketball team The Rollers winning gold against Canada. You can learn more about Sachs in this profile from Australian Dreams in 1999.
Para-athlete Tim Sullivan is hailed in this clip as Australia’s greatest ever Paralympian – winning his tenth career gold. You can learn more about Sullivan’s impressive career in this clip. Sullivan’s spectacular medal haul was beaten by swimmer Matt Cowdrey at the London 2012 Games.
Excerpt from Seven News Adelaide, 17 September 2008.
Notes by Beth Taylor