(2016 ☆ ARCHIVED) Curtis McGrath - Australia

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CURTIS MCGRATH (Australia) - Nominee for the 2016 'Sportsman of the Year' award.


  • Born: 1988, sport: Canoe Sprint, represents: Australia
  • 2016: Paralympic Games: Gold KL2 200m, World Championships: Gold KL2 200m & VL2 200m
  • 2015: World Championships: Gold VL2 200m & Silver KL2 200m
  • 2014: World Championships: Gold VL2 200m

When looking for dominant, gutsy and inspiring performances at the 2016 Paralympic Games, it is hard to go past Curtis McGrath's win in the KL2 200m.

In 2012, whilst serving with the Australian Army in Afghanistan, Curtis stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both of his legs. Whilst being transported to the rescue helicopter he famously said "you guys will see me in the Paralympics.” Fast-forward four years and he delivered on his promise, as well as going one better and winning the coveted gold medal.

When crossing the line, a boat length ahead of strong rival Markus Swoboda (Silver, Austria) and Nick Beighton (Bronze, Great Britain), Curtis’ facial expressions illustrated that of relief, exhaustion and reflection on the last four years of ‘literally blood, sweat and tears.’

As a white water kayaker in high school, para-canoe was the natural choice for Curtis. He made his international debut in 2014 at the World Championships in Moscow, where he won a gold medal and set a new world record in the V1 200m; his career highlight before heading to Rio. Curtis then went on to complete the three-peat, securing gold in 2015 and 2016 for this event.

The Va’a was Curtis’ original choice of boat but after a program change to the para-canoe event he was forced to switch craft. With only a couple of months of preparation, Curtis won a silver medal in the KL2 200m at the 2015 World Championships behind Austrian Markus Swoboda. At the 2016 World Championships in May he went one better, winning the gold medal in what was a carbon copy of the race he later completed in Rio.

Curtis’ achievements are a testament to his hard work, determination and the way he is able to remain composed in such high-pressure situations. In fact, of the three gold medal winners (KL1/2/3) in Rio, he is the only one who also won a Gold at the 2016 World Championships, demonstrating his ability to perform on the big stage.

Activities and achievements off the water:

  • Curtis also competed at the 2016 Invictus Games where he won gold in the 1min Indoor Sprint Row (TA class) and picked up three silvers in the 50m Backstroke, 50m Breaststroke and 100m Freestyle (ISB Class)
  • Self-described movie buff, listing Avatar and Vikings
  • All Blacks fan (New Zealand Rugby Union)
  • In the future he hopes to be working in sport, building pathways for kids with disabilities.

This is a 2016 archived nominee. Voting has closed.

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