HE hopes to be “racing for another 60 years” but Newcastle legend Kurt Fearnley has competed in his final Paralympics event, finishing a gallant second in the Rio wheelchair marathon event by barely five metres.
The 35-year-old veteran, chasing his fourth gold medal in his fifth Paralympics campaign, had to settle for runner-up, finishing only a second behind Switzerland’s Marcel Hug, a long-time friend.
The result meant the Australian team co-captain finished with a marathon medal at four consecutive Paralympics – gold in Athens and Beijing, bronze in London and silver in Rio.
He bows out with a personal tally of 13 Paralympics medals over a variety of distances, three of which were golds.
"It's been an amazing run – these last 16 years," Fearnley said. "I think I ran about 32nd in my Paralympic marathon back in Sydney.
“And I'm grateful for that start.
"That start is the thing that has given me the next 16 years to build on. I'm as proud of that day as I'm today."
Fearnley admitted he had a love-hate relationship with the marathon event, which he described as “just brutal’’ but his favourite challenge.
“You go out there and you control everything physically and you throw everything you've got at it … I'll race marathons for as long as my body can," he said.
Fearnley’s first Paralympics was Sydney 2000, when the 19-year-old from Carcoar collected silver medals in the 800m and 4x100m relay.
Fearnley’s fellow Novocastrian, three-time Paralympian Christie Dawes, finished ninth in the women’s wheelchair marathon in a personal-best-time.
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