Curtis McGrath

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Curtis McGrath
2016 Australian Paralympic team portrait
Personal information
Full nameCurtis Wain McGrath
NationalityAustralian
Born (1988-03-31) 31 March 1988 (age 36)
New Zealand
Sport
SportParacanoe
Disability classKL2
VL3
Medal record
Men's paracanoe
Representing  Australia
Paralympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2016 Rio de Janeiro KL2
Gold medal – first place 2020 Tokyo KL2
Gold medal – first place 2020 Tokyo VL3
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2014 Moscow V-1 TA
Gold medal – first place 2015 Milan VL2
Gold medal – first place 2016 Duisburg KL2
Gold medal – first place 2016 Duisburg VL2
Gold medal – first place 2017 Račice KL2
Gold medal – first place 2017 Račice VL2
Gold medal – first place 2018 Montemor-o-Velho KL2
Gold medal – first place 2018 Montemor-o-Velho VL3
Gold medal – first place 2019 Szeged KL2
Gold medal – first place 2019 Szeged VL3
Gold medal – first place 2023 Duisburg KL2
Silver medal – second place 2015 Milan KL2
Bronze medal – third place 2023 Duisburg VL3

Curtis Wain McGrath, OAM (born 31 March 1988) is an Australian paracanoeist and former soldier. He took up canoeing competitively after both of his legs were amputated as a result of a mine blast while serving with the Australian Army in Afghanistan. McGrath won consecutive gold medals in the Men's KL2 at the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Paralympics,[1][2] and has won ten gold medals and a silver at ICF Paracanoe World Championships between 2014 and 2019.

Personal[edit]

McGrath was born in New Zealand on 31 March 1988.[3] His parents are Kimberley and Paul, and he has two siblings – Brent and Sophia.[4] He grew up in Queenstown, New Zealand and attended Wakatipu High School.[4] As a ten year old, his farming family moved to the Western Australian Wheatbelt but then returned to Queenstown.[5] In his last year at high school, he was awarded the Bruce Grant Memorial Trophy for Outdoor Education. His family later relocated to Brisbane, Queensland.[6] McGrath had a desire to become a jet pilot but became a combat engineer.[5]

McGarth was awarded a Sporting Full Blue at Grffith University whilst studying a Bachelor of Aviation Management.[7]

In 2024, he was appointed to the Paralympics Australia Board.[8]

Military career[edit]

McGrath joined the Australian Army in 2006. On 23 August 2012, as a combat engineer with the 6th Engineer Support Regiment, he was badly injured by an Improvised explosive device during operations in Khas Urozgan District, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.[9] The explosion resulted in McGrath losing his left leg below the knee and his right leg at the knee. He had shattered bones in his wrist, burnt left arm, perforated ear drums and large wound at the back of his thigh. He was originally taken to an American medical base in Germany and then to Royal Brisbane Hospital for rehabilitation. Within three months, he was walking on prosthetic legs.[9]

At the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team Launch in Sydney, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the following comments about McGrath:

... he has overcome those injuries through rehabilitation and intense training to become an elite paracanoeing competitor. Now only three years on from that shocking accident, that shocking event, those wounds, those injuries, he is out on the water representing Australia at Rio, providing an inspiration to our Defence Forces, to all our wounded warriors, those with a disability and those without. His story is a remarkable feat of triumph over adversity, triumph out of tragedy.[10]

Sporting career[edit]

Prior to his military injury, McGrath was a keen white water canoeist, rugby player and swimmer.[9] He took up canoeing and swimming as part of his rehabilitation. His first disability sport experience was at the United States Marine Games in San Diego where he won three gold medals in swimming.[4] In devoting his energy to sport, McGrath commented: "In sport, you are getting your body to do things you don't do every day. It helps your body to adjust more easily to everyday things."[4]

In October 2013, McGrath, with his father Paul, participated in a 1,000 km paddle from Sydney to Queensland to raise funds for the Mates4Mates.[11]

McGrath took up paracanoe in December 2013.[12] He originally competed in V1 (Va'a Outrigger Canoe) in the TA (Trunk and arms category). In 2014, he won the Australian and Oceania Championships in V1 200 m, 500 m and 1000 m events.[3] He is now classified as a KL2 paracanoeist. Almost two years after losing his legs in Afghanistan, he won the gold medal in the V1 200 TA event in world record time at the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Moscow, Russia. After winning the gold medal McGrath commented: "Even when I was on the stretcher getting carried to the medevac chopper I said I was going to be in the Paralympics, and this is the first step".[9] His aim is to compete at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, where paracanoeing makes it debut. In September 2014, he captained the Australian Team at inaugural Invictus Games in London, and won a bronze medal in swimming and made the archery final.[13]

In March 2015, due to the International Paralympic Committee deciding not run the Va'a events in the 2016 Summer Paralympics, McGrath has switched to kayak events.[14] At the 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, in Milan, Italy, he won a gold medal in the Men's V–1 200 m VL2 and a silver medal in the Men's K–1 200 m VL2. After winning the silver medal in the Paralympic Games event, McGrath said: "This is a whole new ball game for me, the boats are a lot faster, so I had to learn pretty quick".[15]

At the 2016 ICF Paracanoe World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, McGrath won two gold medals in Men's KL2 200m and VL2 200m. In winning the Men's KL2 200m, a Paralympic Games event, he defeated six time world champion Markus Swoboda.[16][17]

McGrath competed at 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, where he won IR4 one minute row. He also competed in swimming events.[18]

McGrath fulfilled his goal of winning the Men's KL2 200 m at the 2016 Rio Paralympics in a Paralympic record time of 42.190.[2] It was Australia's first gold medal in paracanoe at the Paralympics.[2] He was given the honour of being the Australian flag bearer at the Rio Paralympics Closing Ceremony.[19]

In February 2017, McGrath participated in a Rowing Australia Tokyo Paralympics training camp in Canberra. At the 2017 Australian Rowing Championships, Sydney International Regatta Centre, McGrath won the Trunk and Arms (TA) Men's Single Scull, in his first ever race.[20]

At the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Račice, Czech Republic, McGrath won gold medals in Men's KL2 200m and VL2 200m.[21] McGrath won gold medals in the Men's KL2 200m and Men's VL3 200m at the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal. It was eight world championship gold medal.[22]

McGrath celebrating gold medal at Tokyo 2020 in Men's VL3 200m

At the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged, Hungary, McGrath won gold medals in the Men's KL2 200m and Men's VL3 200m.[23]

At the 2020 Summer Paralympics,[24] McGrath won gold in both the Men's KL2 and the Men's VL3. In the Men's KL2, McGrath came third in his Heat, and first in his Semi-Final. He won the final in a time of 41.426. In the Men's VL3 he was unbeatable in both his Heat and in the Final. His time in the Final was 50.537.[25]

McGrath lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland and trains on the water at Varsity Lakes. He was originally coached by Andrea King.[12] In 2021, he was coached by Shaun Caven and Guy Power. McGrath is supported by Mates4Mates, branch of the RSL Queensland, a charity that provides support for injured ex-servicemen and women.[3]

Recognition[edit]

  • 2014 – Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association Most Improved Athlete of the Year[26]
  • 2014 – Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year[27]
  • 2014 – The Courier-Mail McDonald's Queensland Athlete with a Disability Award[13]
  • 2014 – Para Performance of the Year – presented by Dairy Australia (Nomination)[28]
  • 2015 – Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year[29]
  • 2016 – Flag bearer for the Australian team at the Rio Paralympics Closing Ceremony[19]
  • 2016 – Finalist for 'The Don Award' Sport Australia Hall of Fame awards[30]
  • 2016 – Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year[31]
  • 2016 – Australian Canoeist of The Year – Olympic/Paralympic Class[31]
  • 2016 – Queensland Academy of Sport Peter Lacey Award for Sporting Excellence[32]
  • 2017 – Medal of the Order of Australia[33]
  • 2017 – Sportsman of the Year at the World Paddle Awards – the first Paralympic athlete to win the award[34]
  • 2017 – Australian Canoeing Paracanoeist of the Year[35]
  • 2018 – Paddle Australia Paracanoeist of the Year[36]
  • 2018 – Queensland Sport Athlete with a Disability
  • 2019 – Paddle Australia Paracanoeist of the Year[37]
  • 2019 – Australian Institute of Sport Awards – Male Para-athlete of the Year[38]
  • 2020 - Paralympics Australia Male Athlete of the Year [39]
  • 2021 - Queensland Sport Athlete with a Disability [40]
  • 2021 - Paddle Australia's 'Paddler of the Year Award with Jessica Fox[41]
  • 2023 - Australian Sports Medal
  • 2023 - Paddle Australia's 'Paddler of the Year Award with Jessica Fox[1]
  • 2024 - Co-captain with Angie Ballard - Australian Team at the 2024 Paris Paralympics[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "World Champions headline first Australian Paralympic Canoe Team". Australian Paralympic Committee News, 16 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Curtis McGrath". Rio Paralympics Official site. Archived from the original on 22 September 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Curtis McGrath". Australian Canoeing website. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d McMurran, Alistair (25 September 2013). "Paralympics: McGrath maintains positive approach". Otago Daily News. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b Sygall, David (12 September 2015). "I looked down and saw my legs were gone: Rio-bound kayaker Curtis McGrath". The Age. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  6. ^ Chandler, Phillip (8 September 2012). "Queenstown bomb blast soldier to get prosthetic legs". Mountain Scene. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  7. ^ Dobson, Ben (16 November 2023). "Cass makes a big splash at Griffith Sports Blues Awards". news.griffith.edu.au. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  8. ^ "New PA Directors Join Green And Gold Runway To Brisbane Via Paris | Paralympics Australia". www.paralympic.org.au. 1 April 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  9. ^ a b c d Foxsports (7 August 2014). "Curtis McGrath is Australia's most inspiring world champion". Courier Mail. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Paralympic Team Lunch, Sydney Olympic Park". Malcolm Turnbull MP website. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  11. ^ Atfield, Cameron (9 November 2013). "Wounded war veterans kayak from Sydney to Brisbane". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  12. ^ a b Greenwood, Emma (12 May 2014). "Former soldier and Gold Coast Paralympian Curtis McGrath determined to win gold in Rio after losing legs in Afghanistan". Gold Coast Bulletin. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  13. ^ a b Malone, Paul (1 December 2014). "Decorated Gold Coast sailor Mat Belcher wins Queensland Sport Star of the Year award". Courier Mail. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  14. ^ Shalala, Amanda (18 March 2015). "Para-kayaker Curtis McGrath aiming for podium at Rio Paralympics to fulfil promise made after Afghan IED incident". ABC News. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
  15. ^ "REynolds wins Australia's first gold at World Championships". Australian Canoeing News, 21 August 2015. Archived from the original on 21 August 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  16. ^ "McGrath snaps Swoboda's Worlds winning streak". International Paralympic Committee website. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  17. ^ "McGrath has bumper day". International Canoe Federation website. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  18. ^ Jamison, Debbie (11 May 2016). "Former Queenstown soldier Curtis McGrath wins gold at Invictus Games". Stuff.nz.com. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Rio 2016: Kurt Fearnley misses final Paralympics gold, Australia wins rugby title". ABC News. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  20. ^ "Para-rowing a major highlight of SIRR 2017". Rowing Australia website. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  21. ^ "MCGRATH ADDS ANOTHER GOLD TO HIS GROWING COLLECTION". Canoeing Australia website. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  22. ^ "McGrath Makes It Eight World Championship Titles". Paddle Australia website. 26 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Australia Finishes Success World Champs With More Tickets To Tokyo". Paddle Australia website. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Australia Names Experienced Para-Canoe Squad For Tokyo". Paralympics Australia. 5 June 2021. Archived from the original on 5 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Australian Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2021". The Roar. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  26. ^ "Cronau wins top honour at state awards". Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association News, 21 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  27. ^ "2014 Australian Canoeing award winners". Australian Canoeing website. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  28. ^ "Finalists named for Australia's premier sporting awards". Australian Sports Commission website. Archived from the original on 27 July 2015. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  29. ^ "2015 Australian Canoeing Award Winners". Australian Canoeing website. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  30. ^ "'The Don' 2016 Finalists Announced". Sport Australia Hall of Fame website. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  31. ^ a b "2016 Australian Canoeing Award Winners". Australian Canoeing website. Archived from the original on 16 November 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  32. ^ "Cate Campbell takes out top honour at Queensland Sport awards" (PDF). Q. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  33. ^ "OAM Final Media Notes (M-R)" (PDF). Governor General of Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  34. ^ "McGrath wins World Paddle top gong". Australian Paralympic Committee website. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Fox and Mcgrath win top gongs at Australian canoeing awards". Canoeing Australia website. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Best of the Sport Jessica Fox and Curtis McGrath Win Top Gongs at Paddle Australia Awards". Paddle Australia website. 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  37. ^ "Fox and McGrath Win Top Gongs at 2019 Paddle Australia Awards". Paddle Australia website. 10 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  38. ^ "Barty Party continues at the AIS Awards". Sport Australia. 10 December 2019. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  39. ^ "De Rozario And Tudhope Earn Top Honours at Paralympics Australia Awards". Paralympics Australia. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  40. ^ "Queensland scoop pool at State Sport Awards". QSport website. Archived from the original on 27 November 2021. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  41. ^ "Fox & McGrath win National Paddler of the Year Award". Paddle Australia. 2 December 2021. Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  42. ^ "Superb Athletes And Fierce Advocates: Australia's Paris 2024 Co-Captains Named". Paralympics Australia. 28 August 2023. Retrieved 28 August 2023.

External links[edit]