What a year it has been for the 2019 Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipients.
The first intake included swimmer Jasmine Greenwood who at just fourteen won an Australian title at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australia Swimming Championships. She then went on to take bronze in the S10 butterfly at the 2019 World Para-Swimming Championships in London in September and collected six other top eight placings including placing 4th in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley (SM10), 4th in the Women’s 100m Backstroke (S10), 5th in the Women’s 4x100m Freestyle (34 points), 5th in the Women’s 100m Freestyle (S10), 6th in the Women’s 50m Freestyle (S10) and 8th in the Mixed 4x50m Medley 20 points (S1-S10/SB1-9).
After a string of solid performances at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australia Swimming Championships where Ricky Betar medalled in five events, including breaking an INAS world record for the 50m freestyle (S14), it was his time of 1:02.03 in the 100m backstroke which earned him selection to the Australian team headed to the 2019 Para-Swimming worlds in London in September.
The fifteen-year-old went on to win bronze in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay (S14), placed 7th in the Men’s 200m Freestyle (S14) and placed 6th in the Men’s 100m Backstroke (S14) where he set an Oceania record in the race, proving himself against the world’s best para-swimmers.
After winning the Australian open T54 200m crown in March 2019, wheelchair racer Luke Bailey went on to make his Australian representative debut at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships in Dubai in November, where he finished 7th in the T54 100m and 8th in the 4x100m relay. The 22-year-old has come under the guidance of leading wheelchair track and road coach Andrew Dawes, who coached Kurt Fearnley to world, Paralympic and Commonwealth success as Bailey continues his ascent in his sport.
Fellow wheelchair sprinter Aimee Fisher won the open T54 200m at the 2019 Australian titles along with a bronze in the 100m, before going on to compete in Switzerland at the Daniela Jutzeler Memorial Meet and the 2019 Swiss Nationals in June. After competing against the world’s best para-athletes in the T54 100m, 200m and 400m events, Aimee is also now being coached by Andrew Dawes in Newcastle, Kurt’s hometown, and is poised for a big year of racing in 2020.
Every athlete has a story to tell, but this one from Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipient Aimee Fisher is particularly powerful. Aimee is a T54 100, 200 & 400m athlete & one of five recipients named today who will receive mentoring from @kurtfearnley as well as financial support. pic.twitter.com/fCpJ7po0wS
— Comm Games AUS (@CommGamesAUS) April 5, 2019
The fifth scholarship recipient was Alissa Jordaan, the emerging para-athlete finished 8th in the ambulant long jump and 11th in the ambulant 100m at the 2019 national titles.
The Kurt Fearnley Scholarship is a joint venture between Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW.
The Carbine Club has a proud tradition of supporting junior sport in New South Wales and the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship furthers this commitment to best enable these five young para-athletes to reach their goals of representing Australia at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Evoking the spirit of the Carbine Club, which celebrates sporting endeavour and thus recognises that winning is important, but grace and courage also matter. Traits which have been exhibited by the five deserving athletes in the inaugural year of the scholarship initiative.
The initiative receives program support from the New South Wales Institute of Sport and is also fully endorsed by Paralympics Australia.
Designed to support para-sport ‘future talent’ athletes who receive limited support elsewhere and fast track their development to achieve success at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, Kurt Fearnley Scholarship holders received financial support up to $3750 based on their individual requirements, NSWIS program support up to $1000 including assistance with performance planning and access to NSWIS facilities, and most importantly, mentorship from the dual Commonwealth Games and three-time Paralympic gold medallist.
.@kurtfearnley accepts a big cheque from @carbinensw on behalf of @CommGamesAUS and the five future stars who are the inaugural recipients of the Kurt Fearnley Scholarships 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/FZIZgVHlvs
— Comm Games AUS (@CommGamesAUS) April 5, 2019
Fearnley congratulated Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW and NSWIS for the support and the combined initiative in introducing the scholarships and spoke at the announcement of the benefit this program would have on the next generation of para-sport stars.
“I remember what it was like when I was a young athlete without much financial support or access to facilities. They have all been identified as emerging, developing or podium potential athletes, but that often doesn’t mean they are eligible for any support – until now. So these scholarships have helped this group in a very important way and I’m thrilled to be be able to work with them all,” Fearnley said.
The 2020 Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipients will be announced on Friday.