Kurt Fearnley may not have got a fairy tale finish to his track racing career, but in claiming a Commonwealth Games silver medal in the men’s T54 1,500-metre final on Tuesday he showed why he is so admired.
Carcoar’s Fearnley demonstrated his grit and determination as he pushed hard all the way to the line at the Gold Coast’s Carrara Stadium.
He showed his humility by giving credit to the man who beat him – Canadian Alexandre Dupont – and he again took the chance to champion the cause of people with disability.
“That’s absolutely everything I had. Alex nailed it today, he had a cracking race,” Fearnley said.
“The fans have been fantastic, the way they have embraced all the Para events. I’ve been put in this amazing position of privilege which I am extremely grateful for and I’ve just got to say there are a lot of people out there with disabilities that haven’t been given the privilege I have.
“This right here is a success, let’s remind ourselves of that and what the real purpose is.”
Starting from barrier six in Tuesday night’s final, Fearnley began well as he tucked in on the wheel of Richard Chiassaro.
He was second behind the Englishman with two laps to go, Fearnley then easing out from behind him to position himself on the outside line.
As the bell sounded, Chiassaro punctured and moves came from the rear. Dupont hit the front and while Fearnley accelerated and tried hard to reel him in, the Canadian held on.
He won in a time of three minutes, 11.75 seconds, Fearnley clocking a 3:11.92 as he added to the gold and silver from his two previous Commonwealth Games appearances.
“I wanted to make sure I was up there and able to cover whatever happened. Mate I willed everything I had in that last 80, it was just not quite enough,” Fearnley said
While Fearnley had not ruled out an appearance at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 before the start of his Gold Coast Games, following the final he confirmed it was his last track performance in Australian colours.
Typically, he delivered his confirmation by pointing out fellow Australian Jake Lappin – who claimed the bronze medal – will be a man to watch.
“That’s done, that’s done,” he said
“At the end of a very long track career it was good to see old Jake, not young Jake no more – he’s progressing as well and he was unlucky tonight.
“He will be one to watch in Tokyo for sure and I’ll be watching with everyone else.”
Fearnley will have one more chance to add to his three career Commonwealth Games medals on Sunday morning when he contests the men’s T54 marathon.
It is the first time the 42.2km event – one which has defined Fearnely’s career – has been included on the Commonwealth Games program for Para athletes.
If the Carcoar native could win that maiden title in his last Australian appearance in front of a home crowd, it would a fitting finale.
The marathon starts at 6.10am.