IMAGE| MICHAEL WILLSON
Commonwealth Games Australia has selected inspiring para-track athlete Kurt Fearnley to carry the Australian flag at tonight’s Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
Fearnley has been a hero of Australian sport for over a decade, and this morning capped off his international career with a gold medal in the T54 wheelchair marathon. The 37-year-old earlier won a silver medal in the men’s T54 1500m final.
Fearnley, who scorched the field to claim gold by more than a minute on the streets of the Gold Coast this morning, says he fought back tears all morning.
“These Games have been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve been a part of,” Fearnley said.
“This race this morning, I feel like I’ve lost fluid from crying.
“It’s just one of the most emotional things I’ve been a part of by far”.
Fearnley, retiring from international competition after todays race, answered media questions but also reiterated to those who follow in his footsteps, the importance of representing Australia proudly.
“My country are the people that have just given and given and felt like I’ve just been able to build this racing career because of their generosity,” he said.
“I think of the country as just an expansion of my family.”
Gold Coast 2018 hosted the largest integrated para-sports program in history, a feat Fearnley says he wouldn’t have dreamt of growing up.
“I have proudly shared this journey with my community and it was rare being able to speak to the athletics team as a whole, able and para together,” he said.
“As a kid I couldn’t have imagined seeing a guy in a wheelchair or a girl in a wheelchair carry the flag at the closing ceremony.”
Tonight Fearnley will take to Carrara Stadium one last time, flag in hand flanked by his fellow team mates – able bodied and para , an honour he does not take lightly.
“You know what, I’d carry this (the Australian flag) to the ends of the earth,” he said.