YOU CAN BE AT IN­VIC­TUS

YOU GET BACK ON THE HORSE AND MAKE THE BEST OF THE SIT­U­A­TION LIFE HAS GIVEN YOU.

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE / BIG READ -

foot­note. His fo­cus was now on Rio. The kayak is a faster craft than the out­rig­ger and, while he was a quick learner in mak­ing the swap, he was now aim­ing for per­fec­tion. He ar­rived at the 2016 World Ca­noe­ing Cham­pi­onships in Ger­many after mak­ing a de­tour to com­pete in his sec­ond In­vic­tus Games in the US on the way. This time, he beat Swo­boda by a frac­tion of a sec­ond. It tar­geted him as the man to beat a few months later in Rio. “I think there’s a right time for ev­ery­thing. I went into Rio as one of the favourites. I’d had a good prepa­ra­tion and on the day of the fi­nal, the con­di­tions were very good. “It was an amaz­ing race. It was just one of those races that was al­most per­fect.” As at the World Cham­pi­onships, Swo­boda got off to a fly­ing start and Cur­tis had to chase him down in the last 50m to clinch gold in Par­a­lympic record time. When he crossed the fin­ished line, me­dia re­ports sug­gested his re­ac­tion was no­tably un­der­stated. Cur­tis put it down to relief and ex­haus­tion but per­haps the sense of des­tiny wasn’t lost on him either. His fo­cus is now on the Tokyo Par­a­lympics in 2020, where the out­rig­ger ca­noe has been added back to the pro­gram. Two years out, things are look­ing pos­i­tive. His gold medals in both classes at the re­cent World Cup event and World Cham­pi­onships come on the back of an in­ter­rupted prepa­ra­tion, but Cur­tis is re­al­is­tic too. “I’ll be 32 in 2020 so my phys­i­cal abil­ity to be com­pet­ing against younger com­peti­tors in a sprint sport will be a chal­lenge,” he says. Not that he’s ever backed away from one be­fore. He plans to get back to his dis­ci­plined train­ing sched­ule of 11–12 ses­sions a week and give it his best. In the six years since his ac­ci­dent, Cur­tis has earned a string of ac­co­lades for his achieve­ments, in­clud­ing an Or­der of Aus­tralia medal and the 2017 Sportsman of the Year at the World Pad­dle Awards, the first para-ath­lete to win it. It is not the life path he fore­saw but Cur­tis doesn’t spend too much time look­ing back. “You get back on the horse and make the best of the sit­u­a­tion life has given you,” he says. “I’ve come a long way. That’s the power of sport.” Syd­ney will host the fourth In­vic­tus Games from Oc­to­ber 20–27. The Games were started by Prince Harry, who was in­spired by an event he at­tended for wounded vet­er­ans in the US. He launched a large-scale multi-na­tion event after see­ing the pos­i­tive im­pact sport could have on the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and re­cov­ery of ser­vice men and women who had been wounded, in­jured or fallen ill in the line of duty. More than 500 ath­letes from 18 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Iraq, Jor­dan and Ukraine, will com­pete in Syd­ney in 11 medalled sports and two fea­ture events. Some events are tick­eted and oth­ers – road cy­cling, sail­ing and a driv­ing chal­lenge – are free to at­tend. The games will be broad­cast on the ABC.

MAIN PHOTO: RICHARD GOSLING; LEFT: DEAN MOUHTAROPOULOS/GETTY IM­AGES

RIGHT: Para­ca­noeist Cur­tis Mcgrath won gold in the Rio Par­a­lympics and is an am­bas­sador for the up­com­ing In­vic­tus Games in Syd­ney. LEFT (OP­PO­SITE PAGE): Cur­tis at the Euro­pean Ca­noe Sprint Olympic Qual­i­fy­ing in 2016.

PHOTO: MATTHEW STOCKMAN

Cur­tis Mcgrath after win­ning the KL2 at the Rio Par­a­lympics.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Cur­tis Mcgrath be­fore he lost both his legs while serv­ing in the Mid­dle East.

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