KURT Fearnley spoke before this year’s Oz Day 10km race in Sydney about his desire to regain the winning feeling in a race he holds dear.
Whatever was driving him, he made it count on Tuesday as he pushed his way to an amazing 10th win in the race after being beaten the last two years.
Starting at The Rocks in the heart of Sydney, Fearnley and his fellow competitors, who included Japanese stars defending champion Kota Hokinoue and training partner Josh George, heard the Australian national anthem before setting off on their course.
The three-time Paralympic gold medallist from Carcoar was not going to let anything stand in the way of another win, be it a mechanical issue such as the one he suffered last year, or a determined opponent like David Weir who pipped him on the line 12 months earlier.
“As I said before the race, I don’t think I realised how much I loved winning it until I went without a victory for a while,” Fearnley said after his win.
“Given that it is probably the last year of my career where I am really focusing all my energy on my racing, this was very important to me, to get a 10th win and equal Louise Sauvage for the record is very special.”
Fearnley was part of the lead group for the first 2.5 kilometres before going solo, and he extended his margin as the race went on.
He crossed the line around a minute ahead of Hokinoue with Sho Watanabe third.
The former CSU student and current Newcastle resident has already indicated that this year’s Rio de Janeiro Paralympics will be his last, but he intends to continue racing on January 26 each year for as long as the body will allow it.
Based on what he showed yesterday he should break Sauvage’s record, though he is not taking anything for granted.
“I’ll line up here for many, many years to come, but when you know things at the top level are starting to draw to a close you have got to make the most of it if you are in good form, which I felt I was coming into this race,” he said.
“I led from about 2.5km and was able to keep stretching that gap out as the race went on.
“Now things start to build a bit more. The first major marathon of the year will be in Tokyo at the end of February, then I’ve got the London and Boston marathons in April, and from there it is all about Rio and trying to get on the top of the podium.”