Paralympic champion and eight-time world champion Curtis McGrath (QLD) will follow in Olympic medallist and seven-time world champion Jessica Fox’s paddle strokes on Sunday (10 February) as the two Australian paddle stars take on the whitewater course at Penrith Whitewater Stadium in Sydney together.

The event marks the start of the Paralympic and Olympic qualification season, 18 months out from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic and Olympic Games, and coincides with McGrath’s first hit-out of the season at the 2019 Canoe Sprint Grand Prix II on 8-10 February.

McGrath, a Paralympic flatwater paddler who lost his legs in a mine blast while serving in Afghanistan in 2012, said he used to do whitewater paddling at school in New Zealand and thinks he will remember the skills.

“I’m sure it’s just like riding a bike. At least I hope so,” McGrath said.

“It’s an idea that came up a few years back,” Fox said on their plan to paddle together. “Curt is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Knowing his story, his determination to get to the Paralympics, his dedication to his craft and his incredible performances, to see him win world titles and Paralympic gold, I’ve admired him for many years.

“I found out he had done some slalom back in the day before his accident in Afghanistan and wanted to get back on the rapids. It’s all about sharing disciplines, sharing time on the water, and helping him take on this challenge to get on the rapids. I think he would be the first Para-athlete to compete in slalom, and it’s obviously more fun than the straight-line stuff he does,” she laughed.

By Paddle Australia
Posted: 08/02/2019