Kurt Fearnley

Kurt Harry Fearnley, AO[1][2] (born 23 March 1981) is an Australian wheelchair racer, who has won gold medals at the Paralympic Games and 'crawled' the Kokoda Track. He has a congenital disorder called sacral agenesis which prevented fetal development of certain parts of his lower spine and all of his sacrum. In Paralympic events he is classified in the T54 classification. He focuses on long and middle-distance wheelchair races, and has also won medals in sprint relays. He participated in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games. Fearnley finished his Paralympic Games career with silver and bronze medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.[3][4][5] He won a gold and silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was the Australian flag bearer at the closing ceremony.

Kurt Fearnley
2012 Australian Paralympic Team portrait of Fearnley
Personal information
Full nameKurt Harry Fearnley
Nationality Australia
Born (1981-03-23) 23 March 1981
Cowra, New South Wales
Height1.4 m (4 ft 7 in)
Weight50 kg (110 lb)


I had my Mum and Dad and my four other brothers and sisters sitting around me constantly telling me I can do anything. And then I had Carcoar which is a town of 200 people every time I see them they were telling me I can do anything and I think if you have that enough, you're going to be determined. You're told constantly from when you're a kid that everything is possible, that I don't think there's any other alternative but to start to believe that.

Kurt Fearnley[6]

The town had got together and raised $10,000 and they bought the chair and they ... paid for the trip and they said if he needs anything else you know we're going to make sure that he ... gets that opportunity. So it's a town of 200 people within a week had had 10 grand sitting there, so it was it's nice now that I know that Carcoar have this ... bond I guess, or they know that they're the reason that I'm here.

Kurt Fearnley[6]

Fearnley was born on 23 March 1981 in the New South Wales town of Cowra as the youngest of five children.[7][6] He was born with sacral agenesis; he is missing certain parts of his lower spine and all of his sacrum.[8] At the time of his birth, doctors did not believe he would live longer than a week.[8] He grew up in the small New South Wales town of Carcoar.[8] At school, he took part in all sports including athletics and rugby league.[8] He won his first athletics medal in the high jump.[6][8] He took up wheelchair racing at the age of 14 and took it to an elite level at the age of 17.

After leaving Blayney High School, he moved to Sydney to train and start a Bachelor of Human Movement degree.[9] He lives in Newcastle and is a teacher.[10] He is 1.4 metres (4 ft 7 in) tall and weighs 50 kilograms (110 lb).[10]

In 2010, Fearnley married Sheridan Rosconi at Glenrock Lagoon. Fearnley and Rosconi met while studying at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, New South Wales.[11] Their first son, Harry, was born in 2013 with a second child, a daughter Emilia born in 2017.[12]

In 2014, his autobiography Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons & Kokoda was published.[13]


In 1997, Fearnley was a member of the Western Region Academy of Sport[14] and by the 2000 Sydney Paralympics was representing Australia. At these Games, Fearnley won two silver medals in the 800 m and 4×100 m relay events.[15] He also represented his country in the demonstration sport of Men's 1500 m wheelchair, where he came 4th. He went to the 2002 IPC Athletics World Championships in Birmingham, England and finished 7th in both the 400 m and 800 m T54 events.

At the 2004 Olympic Games, he finished 5th in the demonstration sport of Men's 1500 m wheelchair. Following this he won two gold medals in the 5000 m T54 and marathon T54 events at the 2004 Athens Paralympics,[15] for which he received a Medal of the Order of Australia.[2] At the 2006 IPC Athletics World Championships in Assen, Netherlands, he won three gold medals and one bronze medal. Participating in his third Paralympics in Beijing, he won a gold medal in the marathon T54, two silver medals in the 800 m T54 and 5000 m T54 events and a bronze medal in the 1500 m T54 event.[15]

On 30 September 2009, Fearnley conducted a training climb of Sydney's Centrepoint Tower's 1,504 fire stairs in 20 minutes, taking them two at a time. While far short of the 6m 52s record for the annual charity climb (Sydney Tower Run-up), the Tower's manager said this was quicker than the 25 minutes required by most able-bodied people.[16] In 2009, he won his fourth New York City Marathon title, his third consecutive title in the Chicago Marathon and victories in Seoul, Paris, London and Sydney.[17] In November 2009, Fearnley crawled the Kokoda Trail accompanied by family and friends in support of Movember and Beyond Blue.[18] He completed the 96-kilometre (60 mi) journey[19] in 10 days.[8] In 2009, he was awarded the Young Australian of the Year for New South Wales.[20]

Fearnley is active in advocacy work, and has been an ambassador for the Don't DIS my ABILITY[21] campaign for four years. He was also a 2010 International Day of People with Disability Ambassador.[22] In 2010, Fearnley competed again in the New York marathon, which he came in third. In the same year his image was featured on the medal for the 2010 Blackmores Sydney Running Festival.[23] He also won a gold medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games in the 1500 m T54 event.[9]

In early 2011 at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, he won the marathon. Later in the year, Fearnley competed in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.[24]

At the 2012 London Paralympics, he was aiming to be the first person to win three consecutive marathon T54 gold medals.[25] However, he instead won a bronze medal in the Men's Marathon T54 and a silver medal in the Men's 5000 m T54.[15]

Fearnley won a bronze medal in the 1500 m T54 at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games; he had been fighting a virus in the days before the event.[26] In November 2014, he won his fifth New York Marathon men's wheelchair event. After the competition, he stated "That was one of the toughest races of my life" due to the high winds that nearly forced the cancellation of the wheelchair event.[27]

At the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, he finished fourth in the Men's 5000 m T54 and did not progress to the final of the Men's 1500 m T54. He left Doha immediately to compete in the New York Marathon where he finished fifth after crashing at the 12-mile mark.[28][29] On Australia Day 2016, he won the Oz Day 10K Wheelchair Road Race for the tenth time joining Louise Sauvage as a ten-time winner of this prestigious wheelchair road race.[30]

At his last Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Fearnley won the silver medal in the Men's Marathon T54 and the bronze medal in the Men's 5000 m T53/54.[5] Fearnley indicated he will race in the wheelchair marathon at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and continue to race marathons on the international circuit.[4] At the end of the marathon, Fearnley said: "One of my biggest strengths is that I deal with discomfort better than most."[4]

At the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London, England, Fearnley finished sixth in both the Men's 1500 m and 5000 m T54 events.[31]

At the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Fearnley won the gold medal in the Men's Marathon T54 and silver in the Men's 1500 T54. He was given the honour of the flag bearer at the closing ceremony.[32]

Fearnley is coached by Andrew Dawes at the New South Wales Institute of Sport.[9]


Fearnley extensive experience in disability sport had led him to be appointed to several boards.



  1. Kemp, emma (11 June 2018). "Kurt Fearnley humbled by Queen's Honours". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  2. "Fearnley, Kurt". It's an Honour. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  3. "Australian Paralympic Athletics Team announced". Australian Paralympic Committee News, 2 August 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  4. "Rio 2016: Kurt Fearnley misses final Paralympics gold, Australia wins rugby title". ABC News. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  5. "Kurt Fearnley". Rio Paralympics Official site. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  6. "Kurt Fearnley on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope". Australian Broadcasting Corporation Website. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  7. "Results". KurtFearnley.com. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  8. Coutts, Gordon (2010). Kurt Fearnley – Takes on the Challenge. Sydney: MacMillan Education Australia. ISBN 9781420290615.
  9. "Kurt Fearnley Profile". athletics.com.au. Athletics Australia. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  10. "Kurt Fearnley". International Paralympic Committee Athlete Profiles. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  11. "Kurt marries his CSU sweetheart". Western Advocate. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  12. "Athlete Kurt Fearnley on sport, life, love and what it takes to become a champion". Courier Mail. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  13. Fearnley, Kurt (2014). Pushing the Limits : Life, Marathons & Kokoda. Australia: Penguin. ISBN 9781743483053.
  14. Western Region Academy of Sport Hall of Fame, WRAS Website, 14 January 2010
  15. Results for Kurt Fearnley from the International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  16. 2 at a time: Paralympian climbs Centrepoint on his hands, ABC Online, 30 September 2009
  17. Speaker Profile of Kurt Fearnley at The Celebrity Speakers Bureau
  18. Kurt Fearnley, International Day of People with Disability, Retrieved 30 September 2009
  19. PNG correspondent Liam Fox and wires (19 November 2009). "Fearnley conquers Kokoda Track". ABC News. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  20. Smith, Jeanette (2011). Pushing strong : celebrating fifty years of wheelchair sports NSW : 1961–2011. Sydney: Playright Publishing. pp. 102–103. ISBN 9780980666694.
  21. "Home – Don't DIS my ABILITY – International Day of People with a Disability in NSW". Dontdismyability.com.au. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  22. IDPwD ambassador
  23. Profile of Kurt Fearnley
  24. 26 December 2011 12:01AM (26 December 2011). "Paralympian Kurt Fearnley up for the task in Sydney-to-Hobart". Herald Sun. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  25. "Kurt Fearnley". Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  26. "Angela Ballard wins para-1500m gold, Kurt Fearnley claims silver". ABC News. 1 August 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  27. "Kurt Fearnley wins fifth New York City Marathon; Wilson Kipsang, Mary Keitany lead Kenyan sweep". ABC News. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  28. "Doha2015". athletics.com.au. Athletics Australia. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  29. Whitelaw, Anya (3 November 2015). "Kurt Fearnley places fifth after crashing in New York Marathon". Western Advocate. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  30. Debenham, Sam (27 January 2016). "Fearnley regains that winning feeling: Carcoar star's Oz Day perfect 10 in Sydney". Central Western Daily. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  31. Ryner, Sascha (24 July 2017). "Three from three for Turner as Team Australia finish with 28 medals". athletics.com.au. Athletics Australia. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  32. "Closing Ceremony live: All the colour and news from the final night of the Commonwealth Games". News.com. 15 April 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  33. "Not a dry eye for Kurt Fearnley's NSW Australian of the Year 2019 acceptance speech". Disability Support Guide website. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  34. Parris, Michael (11 June 2018). "Kurt Fearnley earns new Queen's birthday honour after distinguished Australian Paralympic career". Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  35. "Councils". Official website of the Paralympic Movement. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  36. "APC Annual Report 2016-17" (PDF). Australian Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  37. McKinney, Max (1 September 2018). "Kurt Fearnley appointed to the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation board". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  38. "Sport Australia board appointments". Sport Australia website. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  39. "2011 Nominees". Melbourne, Victoria: Sport Performer Awards. 2011. Archived from the original on 16 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
  40. "2014 Induction Ceremony". Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre website. Archived from the original on 10 March 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  41. "Rabbitohs, Fearnley, Fox win top ASPAS". Australian Sports Commission News. 11 February 2015. Archived from the original on 11 February 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  42. Cronshaw, Damon (18 January 2016). "Centennial Park precinct named after Newcastle wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  43. "Fearnley and Di Toro to captain 2016 team". Australian Paralympic Committee News. 4 February 2016. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  44. "Kurt Fearnley creates history with 'The Don' Award as the late Richie Benaud is elevated to Legend on a marvellous night for Australian sport". Commonwealth Games Australia website. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  45. "GQ Men of the Year". Bandt website. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  46. Visentin, Lisa (12 November 2018). "Kurt Fearnley named NSW Australian of the Year 2019". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  47. "Kurt Fearnley Scholarships to support future stars". Commonwealth Games Australia. Retrieved 5 April 2019.

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