The New South Wales Institute of Sport in Australia has just unveiled its new scholarship program that will benefit Para-sport athletes. This scholarship, called the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship, is geared towards athletes that show potential to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Para-sport events, specifically the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
This scholarship was created and funded by Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA), the Carbine Club of NSW, and the New South Wales Institute of Sport in Australia. Five Para-sport athletes will be the recipients of this scholarship and the athletes will be chosen annually.
The winners will qualify for up to $3,750, personalized training and performance plans, admission to NSWIS facilities, funding to competitions, and mentoring by one of Australia’s most admired athletes (according to the Commonwealth Games’ official website)—Kurt Fearnley.
Kurt Fearnley, a Para-sport athlete born with lumbar sacral agenesis, earned his claim to fame through wheelchair racing. Fearnley began wheelchair racing in 1995 at the age of 14 and began competing for Australia at an elite level in the year 2000.
Fearnley competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games, winning gold in the men’s marathon T54 in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. In all, he won 3 gold medals, 7 silver, and 3 bronze. His hard work and dedication to his sport, along with his successes, helped earn him the title of co-captain at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
He has also won the Sydney Marathon 11 times and the New York Marathon 5 times. In 2019, upon announcing his retirement, Fearnley became the first Paralympian to receive the Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s “The Don” award.
“This is a ripper for these young athletes,” Fearnley said, “I remember what it was like when I was a young athlete without much financial support or access to facilities. They have all been identified as emerging, developing or podium potential athletes, but that often doesn’t mean they are eligible for any support – until now.”
The five 2019 recipients of the Kurt Fearnley scholarship are Luke Bailey, Ricky Betar, Jasmine Greenwood, Aimee Fisher, and Alissa Jordaan.
Betar is described by the Commonwealth games official website as a versatile swimmer.Betar competes in the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, and the 200 IM. In the past year of his swimming career, Betar has taken down a group of national records along with winning seven gold medals at the 2018 Australia Age Group Championships in his class of swimmers.
14-year-old Greenwood is the second swimming recipient of the scholarship. Greenwood swims the 100 breaststroke and the 200 IM. She placed 5th in both of those events at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Due to the generosity of those who have funded this scholarship, Betar and Greenwood will begin a training program that will begin to prepare them for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.