After winning two silver medals in his Paralympic debut at the Sydney 2000 Games, Kurt Fearnley established himself as one of the world’s top Para-athletes with gold in the marathon and 5000 metres at Athens 2004 and defending his marathon crown in stunning fashion at Beijing 2008.
Across his esteemed career, Fearnley won several World Championships and scores of major global marathons, including three straight New York Marathons, as well as two Commonwealth Games gold medals, the last of which was his final race, at Gold Coast 2018, where he was also Australia’s closing ceremony flag bearer.
Fearnley’s legend has grown through his work on social justice issues, including equality for people with a disability. In 2009 he crawled the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea to raise awareness and funding for men’s health charities and he has since devoted himself to several other charitable initiatives.
Fearnley has served as a board member for Paralympics Australia and as a member of the International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Advisory Council. He is a former board member of Australian Volunteers International and the NSW Australia Day Council and was a founding member of the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s Advisory Council. He is currently the Paralympic athlete representative on the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee.
Fearnley has received numerous honours including the 2019 NSW Australian of the Year, 2009 NSW Young Australian of the Year and the 2018 The Don winner as the Australian sports person most likely to inspire the nation. In 2018 Kurt was named an Officer of the Australian Order and received an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University for his contribution to sport and disability advocacy.
Five Paralympic Games (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016):
- 2000: 2 silver
- 2004: 2 gold, 1 silver
- 2008: 1 gold, 2 silver
- 2012: 1 silver, 1 bronze
- 2016: 1 silver, 1 bronze
Three Commonwealth Games (Delhi 2010, Glasgow 2014, Gold Coast 2018):
- 2010: 1 gold
- 2014: 1 silver
- 2018: 1 gold,1 silver
Recognition of Fearnley’s achievements includes:
- 2004: Medal of the Order of Australia
- 2007: New South Wales Institute of Sport Athlete of the Year
- 2007: New South Wales Sports Federation Athlete of the Year
- 2007: Laureus World Sports Awards finalist
- 2009: New South Wales Young Australian of the Year
- 2009: Laureus World Sports Awards finalist
- 2014: Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre Path of Champions inductee
- 2014: AIS Sport Performance Awards – Sport Personality of the Year
- 2016: Team Captain with Daniela Di Toro – Australian Team at the 2016 Rio Paralympics
- 2018: Australian flag bearer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony
- 2018: Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to people with a disability, as a supporter of, and fundraiser for indigenous athletics and charitable organisations, and as a Paralympic athlete
- 2018: Sport Australia Hall of Fame ‘Don Award’ – the award recognises the sporting achievement of the year which has inspired the people of Australia. He was the first athlete with a disability to win the award
- 2019: New South Wales Australian of the Year
- 2018: AIS Sport Performance Awards – ABC Best Sporting Moment of The Year
- 2019: Kurt Fearnley Scholarship established by Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW to assist talented individual Para-sport athletes in NSW
- 2021: New York Road Runners Hall of Fame