Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kurt Fearnley has been appointed to a leadership position on the Australian team for 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Fearnley will join former Australian netball captain Sharelle McMahon, Chef de Mission Petria Thomas, and Commonwealth Games Australia’s (CGA) Team Performance General Manager, Tim Mahon, on the Australian Team Executive for the Games.
Thomas said that Fearnley’s passion for the Games and experience as an athlete will be invaluable, and that his leadership qualities make him an excellent ambassador for the Australian team.
“They [Fearnley and McMahon] are already great ambassadors for Australian sport and the team in Birmingham will certainly benefit from their leadership,” Thomas said.
“Sharelle and Kurt both bring an enormous amount of experience and insight, and they are both great Australian champions that our team will greatly benefit from. The respect they command within the Australian sporting community is immense, and as a collective, our Team Executive can help establish the standards and expectations for the way the team conducts itself.”
CGA is planning to send one of its largest ever teams, with an expected team size of 425 athletes across 19 sports.
473 athletes represented Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, topping the medal tally with 80 gold, 59 silver and 59 bronze medals.
Among the gold medallists was Fearnley, who bowed out of international competition with an emotional victory in the men’s marathon T54. He concluded his representative career as a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time Commonwealth Games champion.
Fearnley said he was honoured to be a part of the Games team in a different capacity this time around.
“I’ve had some amazing Commonwealth Games experiences, so I’m looking forward to remaining involved and assisting where I can,” Fearnley said.
The Team Executive met for the first time recently, and while there are still many questions to be answered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas said that planning for the Games must continue.
“Our normal way of life is on hold in many ways, [but] we need to look forward,” Thomas said.
“[While] we are fortunate to have time on our side for Birmingham, many areas of our planning and preparation for 2022 will be impacted by the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.”
With a planned visit to Birmingham to mark two years to go this July unlikely to proceed, Thomas looks forward to visiting the Games city when life returns to normal.
“Whenever that is, who knows. However, what we do know is that sport is part of the fabric of Australian life … when it comes to the Commonwealth Games, along with the Paralympics and Olympics, everyone is cheering for the same team – Australia.
“We look forward to being able to cheer and celebrate our athletes when international competition begins again.”
The 2022 Games, set to take place from 27 July – 7 August, will feature the largest Para-sport program in history, with Para-athletics, Para-cycling, Para-lawn bowls, Para-powerlifting, Para-swimming, Para-table tennis, Para-triathlon and 3×3 wheelchair basketball all to be contested.
Photo with thanks to Matt Roberts / Getty Images