Australia's Kurt Fearnley (left) and Switzerland's Marcel Hug compete in the marathon T54 race.
Australia's Kurt Fearnley (left) and Switzerland's Marcel Hug compete in the marathon T54 race. ALEXANDRA WEY

Fearnley's silver lining as Paralympics career closes

ATHLETICS: Kurt Fearnley ended his Paralympic career in fitting fashion with his fourth consecutive wheelchair marathon medal.

After almost 42km, it came down to the final 50m in his fifth Paralympics for the Australian, who just didn't have the speed to get over Switzerland's winner Marcel Hug in the T54 event.

"The whole intention was to make it as uncomfortable for everyone as possible and make sure there was no... possibility there was somebody that would get an easy ride through to the finish,” Fearnley said.

Fearnley and Hug got an early break and were never challenged.

"That was a hard run, all of them are pretty hard but that was a brutal one,” Fearnley said.

"I always back myself when it's an uncomfortable marathon, when it's something that's going to make people hurt.

"Today it worked out that way and I utilised it as well as I could.”

Fearnley has won two gold in the event, in Athens and Beijing, a bronze in London and now the silver in Rio de Janeiro.

"It's been an amazing run, the last 16 years,” he said.

The 35-year-old finished 21st at his Paralympic marathon debut in Sydney.

"I'm grateful for that start, that start is the thing that's given me the next 16 years,” Fearnley said.

"I'm as proud of that day as I am today.”

Fearnley said he was proud of how the entire movement had progressed.

"I'm proud that I've played my part in it,” he said.

Immediately after the race, Fearnley embraced his friends and family, and his young son, Harry.

"It's a day he may never remember but it's a day I'll never forget,” he said.

"You look across and you know he's got a big future in front of him and I hope I can be as supportive, understanding and flexible as my family were and my entire town were.”

Although Fearnley will never race at another Paralympics he won't stop racing marathons.

"I'll race marathons for as long as my body can,” he said.

"The health effects, the community I'm part of, I'll ride this as long as possible.”

Fearnley, who is arguably Australia's most famous Paralympian, said he didn't really think about inspiring other athletes.

"They're my family, you don't think about inspiring your brother or your sister, so I don't think about it in those terms,” he said.

"To get to know the kids that are progressing up has been one of the most rewarding things I've been a part of.”

Team leader Andrew Faichney said it was a fantastic way for Fearnley, the co-captain of the Paralympics team, to bow out.

"He's been an excellent captain this trip and a fantastic athlete the whole way through,” he said.


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