Proud Aussie Fearnley Excited by ‘Second Home Games’ in London14 Jun 2011
"It’s a bit of a dream run for me to have my home Games in 2000, then go to Athens, the birthplace of all of the Games, followed by Beijing, the new emerging superpower and see disability have the floor for two weeks in a country where that had never been the case before."
Multi-Paralympic and World champion wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley says he cannot wait for the London 2012 Paralympic Games as it will be like competing on home soil due to the number of Australians that live in the British capital.
The 30-year-old T54 athlete, who made his Paralympic debut at the Sydney Games in 2000, discovered just how many Australians reside in London following last year’s marathon in the city.
After finishing fifth, Fearnley opted against attending the official post race functions and instead headed to join Anzac Day celebrations in Shepherds Bush, an area to the west of London that is home to thousands of people from the southern hemisphere.
“If there weren’t more Australians there than any pub in Australia then I’ll eat my hat,” Fearnley said.
“There were hundreds of guys there who I knew, many of whom I went to University with or knew through a friend of a friend.
“I’m thinking that London 2012 is going to be like a second home Games for me after Sydney. There are more Australians residing in London than anywhere else I’ve raced previously. And because it’s an English speaking country I’m going to have 20 or 30 family and friends coming over to watch me race as well.
“This is a chance for me to get a second home Games and to really enjoy the atmosphere. I think the Aussies will come out in force and support. Hopefully we’ll get as many of them to the start line as we can.”
The opportunity to compete in London in front of so many Australians is, according to Fearnley who retained his marathon world title earlier this year, a dream come true.
In London he will go head-to-head with his British rival David Weir in a number of medal events and has hinted it could be the last Games of his glittering career.
Kurt Fearnley said: “It’s a bit of a dream run for me to have my home Games in 2000, then go to Athens, the birthplace of all of the Games, followed by Beijing, the new emerging superpower and see disability have the floor for two weeks in a country where that had never been the case before.
“Now I get to go to London and I get to race my major rival Dave Weir, an Englishman, on home soil.
“For me it’s going to be something special and I think that if there was a dream way a career could go then this is it. And, if I can get a few golds next year then that’s as good as I could have hoped for.”
Fearnley, who was born with lumbar sacral agenesis (missing the lower portion of his spine) claimed his first Paralympic gold medals at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games with victories in the marathon and 5,000m events.
In 2008 he retained his Paralympic marathon title in Beijing and took silver in the 800m and 5,000m where he was beaten by Britain’s David Weir and Thailand’s Prawat Wahoram respectively.
He will be one of more than 4,200 athletes from over 150 countries competing in London next year when the Paralympic Games get underway on 29 August 2012.