Australian sports legend – and CSU alumnus – Kurt Fearnley retires at the top

CSU alumnus Kurt Fearnley

Kurt Fearnley, OAM, is an Australian sport­ing legend. A three-time Paralympic gold medallist, Kurt has also won marathons all around the world. He crowned his achievements by winning gold in the marathon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games before announcing his retirement from the sport.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) was among the first to offer their congratulations to Kurt. CSU has a particular bond with Kurt, as he is not only a CSU alumnus, he is also a Pro-Chancellor for the university.

Born in Cowra, Kurt graduated from the CSU School of Teacher Education in Bathurst in 2006, and was named a Pro-Chancellor for the Northern Region of the university in 2014.

CSU Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Toni Downes applauded Kurt for his exceptional career, and for being a leading ambassador for inclusion and social change.

“Kurt Fearnley is an outstanding Australian who has inspired the nation throughout his sporting career as a national and international champion.”

“Throughout his impressive sporting career and in every aspect of his life, Kurt represents the very essence of what it means to be a role model for inclusion and diversity in our society. To use the platform of the Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to show how sport can promote inclusion in all areas of life for people with disabilities, demonstrated further his capacity as a role model who challenges us all to accept difference.

“In all his international sporting success and achievements, Kurt continues to value his connection to the people in regional and rural communities across Australia and has demonstrated how the experiences of growing up in country New South Wales and at Charles Sturt University gave him the courage, strength and determination to go on to achieve so much.”

These are sentiments shared by everyone at the university – check out some of the congratulatory messages from Kurt’s CSU family.

A sporting legacy

Kurt’s numerous sporting achievements include 35 wheelchair marathon wins, and an additional 15 podium finishes in 10 countries on five continents over 20 years.

He also crawled the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in 2009 – an incredible feat which he described as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Kurt was also a member of the Investec Loyal crew which won the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in 2012.

Head of the CSU School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health Professor Frank Marino, said, “As a former student of Charles Sturt University, Kurt brought with him a sense of adventure and goodwill.

“As a student he showed maturity beyond his years and was able to create an atmosphere of hope, resilience and determination. His moral compass as a man is perhaps his most impressive attribute.”

“Nevertheless, his physical capacity is what astonished my fellow academics in the School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health. Kurt was able to undertake the most strenuous of physical challenges, as can be plainly seen. The reason for this is that you simply cannot separate the spirit from the physical entity, which is Kurt.

“While we marvel at his sporting achievements we must never forget who Kurt really is; a genuine example of a man determined to be the best he can be in all things,” Professor Marino concluded.

Make your sporting mark

If you are inspired by Kurt – who wouldn’t be? – and want to help the next generation of athletes succeed, check out CSU’s exercise and sports science courses. And learn where one of the best first made his mark.

Image courtesy of the Australian Paralympic Committee