Sport ‘good for everyone’, says Paralympic gold medallist

On a two-day visit to New Delhi, Australia’s Curtis McGrath, 2016 Rio gold medallist, shares his exhilarating journey in sport.

Curtis McGrath... “Sport is good for life.”   -  Getty Images

At 29, Curtis McGrath can say, ‘mission accomplished’. After having lost both his legs in Afghanistan in 2012, during the course of the military operations, the tall Aussie got into para canoeing and won the gold in the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.

For the brave, adversity is a mere deflection to a new opportunity. “I tried a lot of games, and liked canoeing. They changed the event for the Paralympics in which canoeing was introduced for the first time in Rio. I was angry and frustrated. But trained hard and won the gold,” said McGrath in an interaction with Sportstar at the Australian High Commission here on Tuesday.

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Not content with his accomplishment, McGrath has decided to defend the title in Tokyo 2020. “The challenge is bigger than winning first time. But, it gives me the motivation. Maybe, I can get a better time,” he said.

He has competed in the Invictus Games thrice, and wants to give a chance to someone else when it is held next time in Sydney in 2018. He competed in Toronto this time, and will be the ambassador for the event in Sydney. He will decide about the future course of action and his career after the Tokyo Paralympics.

Pursuit of adventure

McGrath opted to join the army when he felt that he had enough of school and did not want to go to the University even though a lot of his friends did. “I wanted adventure. I wanted an active lifestyle. The military offered that life. I had amazing friends,” he recalled, quickly stressing that he was well aware of all the risks and that it could be a lot worse than what he eventually faced.

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McGrath, all set to address the students of Sehwag International School on Wednesday during his two-day visit to the Indian capital, said that it was important to create awareness among the disabled about what they can do. “Sport is good for life, even though not everyone may be able to go to Paralympics. Not just for the disabled, sport is good for everyone. Playing sport is good not only for your physical health, but mental health as well,” he said.