Tokyo 2021 Paralympics: kayaker Curtis McGrath takes second gold
Former Private Curtis McGrath, who vowed to become a Paralympian after his legs were torn off in Afghanistan, made his way to a second gold at the Tokyo Games.
Curtis McGrath has revealed the real reason he vowed to become a Paralympian in the moments after his legs exploded in Afghanistan.
It’s part of sports folklore that Australia’s greatest para-canoeist predicted he would win gold at the Paralympic Games while fellow soldiers saved his life on the battlefield.
But after winning his third gold – and second in Tokyo – on Saturday, the inspiring ex-combat engineer confessed he only said it to try and calm his colleagues down.
“I didn’t even think I would go to the Paralympic Games, it was just a comment I made to give hope to my comrades and help them through the trauma,” he said.
“I could see they had heart aches and a sore mind so for this to happen is very special and a tribute to them as well.
“I’m just one part of a puzzle piece that creates this moment and these Games, straight from the battlefield of Afghanistan when I was lying on the land that was potentially going to die.
“All the people from that time until my recovery and here on the line and my family and friends beyond… it’s just a tribute to that.”
With 10 world titles and now three Paralympic gold medals, McGrath’s record speaks for itself. He successfully defended the kayak title he won in Rio, and also won gold in Va’a, which was added to the program for the first time.
He has been inundated with supporters, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and says he plans to take a year off before starting his preparations for Paris in 2024.
” I can not wait to be there. I really want to compete there but I think my ambitions will be slightly changed, ”he said.
“I’m definitely going to have a year off next year. I am a little tired and sore, I need my body to recover. Five years hammering the same block of steel is pretty hard, so I can’t wait to take a break and some free time. But at the same time, I like the competition. I love representing Australia. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do it again if I qualify.
AUSSIE INSPIRING FINANCIAL ADVOCACY
Inspirational Paralympian Curtis McGrath called on Australian businesses to follow the lead of the federal government in kicking the tin to help all Australian athletes with disabilities.
McGrath won his second consecutive gold medal in para-canoeing in Tokyo on Friday, but interrupted his celebrations to ask for more financial aid as record numbers of Australians tune in to watch the team compete in Tokyo.
The 33-year-old former soldier welcomed the government’s announcement that Australian Paralympians will receive the same cash bonuses as Olympic medalists, but said the bulk of the city must also dip into their pockets.
“We just want a level playing field and we want a level playing field because that is the goal of the Paralympic Games,” said McGrath.
“Anyone, even Australian companies, can get started and sponsor a Paralympic athlete, not just myself, not just a gold medalist, but someone who works every day, who works hard.
“(Paralympians) do the same amount of work, the same amount of effort as an Olympian, an NRL player and an AFL player, so they should get the rewards they deserve. . “
McGrath is one of the few top Paralympians to have some support, but he has had to work double the overtime for the recognition he has received.
He lost both of his legs when a mine exploded while serving in the military in Afghanistan and admitted that the Taliban’s return to power in the country kept him from focusing on his Paralympic races.
“It is a tragic situation in Afghanistan and my heart goes out to the people there,” he said.
“I was there looking for improvised explosive devices, clearing the way for school buses, people going to work or whatever.
“I’m pretty happy with my contribution to the country. Now it is for the Afghan people to decide and I hope they can find a peaceful solution.
It’s part of sports folklore that just as McGrath was transported out of Afghanistan after being injured he immediately said he wanted to be a Paralympian and true to his word he has since established himself as the top para -canoeist in the world, winning several world titles.
He won the gold medal in the KL2 kayak when the sport was first featured at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016 and defended his title with an impressive performance in Tokyo.
“Rio was so new to me, the high performance of it all, this level of competition, the competitiveness of everyone and it’s really great to have that,” said McGrath, who also qualifies for the final event. of Va’a on Saturday, which was added to the schedule for Tokyo.
“I’m more experienced now, a little older, an extra year I worked on things and I felt really comfortable.
“There were nerves, but that means it means something to me and I’m just super happy with my performance.
“Coming back to the sequel, it’s one of those feelings that confirms that I can come to a big event like this or the biggest event and perform.”
Susan Seipel, who represented Australia in equestrian sports before switching to canoeing sport, won silver in the women’s Va’a race on Friday to win her second medal after securing bronze in kayaking in Brazil there is five years old.
“It’s amazing, I’m really grateful to be here. They were able to organize the Games and I am very happy about it, ”said Seipel, who has also entered kayaking in Japan.
“It’s one more, it’s a better color than bronze, so it’s awesome… It’s the start of this event at the Paralympic Games, so it’s really special to come into the competition again. story.