Australian James Turner has shown terrific form at the last two major global events – Rio 2016 and London 2017 - having only taken up Para athletics in 2015.
A former Para football player, he switched to Para athletics after the Australian national Para football seven-a-side team failed to qualify for Rio 2016.
At the Rio Paralympic Games he raced to gold in the 800m T36 after setting a terrific pace from the gun, crossing the line in world record time (2:02.39). He was subsequently awarded the Medal of Order of Australia in recognition of his success.
Less than 12 months later at the 2017 World Championships in London, Great Britain, Turner was at it again – but never mind one title, the Wollongong athlete claimed a hat trick of gold medals with wins in the 200m, 400m and 800m T36, dominating every race.
Having broken the 200m T36 world record in the heats, clocking 24.15, Turner went back out 24 hours later and knocked a further 0.06 off his best.
Further personal information
Sport specific information
In 2019 he was named Male Para Athlete of the Year by Athletics Australia. (Athletics Australia Facebook page, 10 Jun 2020)
In 2016 and 2017 he was named Sports Person of the Year by the University of Wollongong in Australia. (illawarramercury.com.au, 27 Oct 2017)
In January 2017 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia [OAM] in recognition of the gold medal he won at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (paralympic.org, 28 Jan 2017)
In 2016 he was named Paralympic Rookie of the Year by the Australian Paralympic Committee [APC]. (paralympic.org, 09 Dec 2016)
In 2013 he was named Player of the Year for the 'Pararoos' - Australia's Para seven-a-side national football team. (illawarramercury.com.au, 23 Jun 2020)
He sought help from a sports psychologist following the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he had won gold and broken the world record in the T36 800m. He believes his issues stemmed from childhood, when he was never able to beat the other children at school, and as a result he had promised himself that one day he would be the best at something. "I won [in Rio de Janeiro], I broke the world record and everything was the same. I wasn't profoundly changed, I was still the same guy. I came to realise that nothing that I did would fix all my problems and that was a hard realisation for me. [Winning] was the easy part. [Before it] gave me hope that I would one day be 'truly happy', and now it was gone. The time between Rio and the 2017 World Championships [in London, England] was probably the hardest time in my life. I felt useless and unhappy, and how can someone who's the best in the world feel useless and unhappy? I lost all hope. I developed unhealthy and self-destructive habits. I almost didn't get through it. I now promise myself that I'll always have a new dream, and that it'll be one I have no right to achieve. That way, I'll always have a reason to keep going." (paralympic.org, 03 May 2018; Instagram profile, 01 Sep 2019)
He has also studied at the University of Wollongong in Australia. (athletics.com.au, 01 Feb 2017)
|Men's 800 m T36||Final Round||2016-09-17||1|
|Men's 200 m T36||Heat 2||2017-07-16||1|
|Men's 200 m T36||Final 1||2017-07-17||1|
|Men's 400 m T36||Final 1||2017-07-21||1|
|Men's 800 m T36||Final 1||2017-07-23||1|