John Maclean

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Quick Facts

How acquired
Truck accident
Date of Birth
Fri, 27/05/1966
Penrith, NSW
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience
Beijing 2008
Herb Elliot, Muhammad Ali
Career Highlights
2007 World Championships in Munich
Greatest Moment
Ironman Hall of Fame 2002, Hawaiian Ironman 1995, 1996, 1997, English Channel 1998


For most people who are fortunate enough to make an Australian rowing team, it is the highest sporting achievement of their lives. However that is not necessarily the case for athlete John Maclean, who already has an impressive career behind him.

John was an aspiring rugby league player with his team the Penrith Panthers and a keen triathlon competitor when he was hit by a truck whilst cycling during a training session. Suffering 17 fractures overall, he lost the use of his legs and became a paraplegic. It was with the help of his father who told him “look how far you’ve come, see how far you can go” that John picked up his life from where he left off.

Since then, John has swum across the English Channel, sailed in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, participated in the Hawaiian Ironman and was a 1500m wheelchair race finalist at the Sydney Olympic Games demonstration event. In comparison to such achievements, his inclusion on the rowing team is relatively small. Competing at his first Paralympic Games in Beijing, John and his partner Kathryn Ross left with a silver medal and Australia’s first in Paralympic rowing.

After his first bite at Paralympic sport, John retired from rowing but returned in early 2011, hungry for the gold medal that is missing from his vast sporting achievements. Reunited with Kathryn, the pair has displayed impressive form in the lead up to the Games, winning bronze at the 2011 World Championships and two gold medals at the 2011 International Adaptive Regatta in Italy.

At the top of the sporting elite, John is also a professional speaker and the founder of the John Maclean Foundation which provides assistance to junior Australian wheelchair users.

Sport & Disciplines

Sport: Rowing
Disciplines: Double mixed sculls
Classification: TA