Australian athletics team captain Kurt Fearnley (NSW) has bookended his Paralympic career by winning the silver medal in the men’s marathon T54 on the final day of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.
Fearnley was locked in a fierce battle with Swiss foe Marcel Hug for the majority of the 42.195km until the dying stages when Hug broke free to finish one second in front of the Australian in 1:26.16.
The initial group of 13 racers slowly broke up before the 20km mark, before Fearnley and Hug raced clear to lead by three minutes at the 30km mark.
In warm conditions at Rio’s famed Copacabana beach, Fearnley stuck with Hug to win his fourth consecutive Paralympic medal in the marathon. The silver medal becomes Fearnley’s 13th Paralympic medal ever since 2000 (three gold, seven silver, three bronze). Earlier in Rio, Fearnley won bronze in the 5000m T54 event on the track.
"Marathons are just brutal, you know. You go out there and you control everything physically and you throw everything you've got at it," an emotional Fearnley said.
"With 200 (metres) to go … I had kind of stopped. Marcel was a very deserving winner."
On the course, his family and friends including his wife Sheridan and two-year-old son Harry celebrated a glorious Paralympic career.
"Mate, it's a day that he may never remember but it's a day I won't forget," Fearnley said.
At the conclusion of the Games, it has been announced that Fearnley has been elected as a member of the IPC Athletes Council.
In the women’s event, Australia’s sole representative Christie Dawes (NSW) finished 9th in a tough race, clocking a personal best time of 1:42.59.
The six-time Paralympian will leave Rio with the silver medal she won as a part of the T53/54 4x400m relay team.