KURT Fearnley called full-time on an amazing wheelchair racing career on the track the same way he started it – giving his all.
The 37-year-old Novocastrian used every ounce of energy and fighting spirit in a stirring finish to the T54 15000m Commonwealth Games final, but couldn’t run down Canada’s Alexandre Dupont.
It was Fearnley’s second consecutive silver medal in the blue ribbon wheelchair event. He won gold in his Games debut in Deli in 2010.
Fearnley, who is co-captain of the Australian athletics team and one of the faces of the Games, barely summoned enough energy to speak after a gruelling race in which his Aussie teammate Jake Lappin took bronze.
“It was bloody tough,” Fearnley said. “I wanted to make sure I was up there and able to cover whatever happened. I willed everything I had in the last 80 metres. It wasn’t quite enough.”
Fearnley qualified second fastest for the final behind England’s Richard Chiassaro, who set a games record in heat two on Monday.
In the final, Chiassaro led early with Fearnley on his back wheel. The T54 is a tough, physical race and the early pace took it’s toll on the Englishman. Tristan Smythe made a move at the 500m.
He was hauled in by Duponte, with the Australian legend on his tail. Fearnley moved outside the Canadian’s rear wheel but he couldn’t come home over the top.
Fearnley, a five time paralympian, will compete in his final race, the marathon, on Sunday.
Asked if the 1500m race would be his last on the track Fearnley said: “That’s done. That is absolutely everything I had. Alex nailed it today. He had a cracking race. At the end of a long track career it was great to see old Jake, not young Jake, is progressing so well. He was unlucky tonight and he is one to watch in Tokyo (Olympics) for sure, but I’ll be watching with everyone else. ”
I willed everything I had in the last 80 metres. It wasn’t quite enough.- Kurt Fearnley
Forever an ambassador, Fearnley, who was born in Carcoar with a congenital condition that left him without much of his lower spine, thanked the fans for “embracing the para events” and delivered a farewell message.
“I have been put in this amazing position of privilege that I am extremely grateful for. I just have to say that there are a lot of people with disabilities out there who haven’t been given the privilege that I have.
“We are doing it as a team, as an Australian team at a Commonwealth Games, we are getting people of all experiences in life and we are celebrating it.
“Tomorrow we can go back to work and speak to your co-workers about getting more people with disabilities in there or at your education facilities or in public transport. This right here is a success and let’s remind ourselves of that, and what the real purpose is.”
READ MORE: All the Commonwealth Games news
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