KURT Fearnley has been named 2019 NSW Australian of the Year.
The announcement was made on Monday evening at a ceremony held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
Mr Fearnley will be one of 32 state and territory recipients from around the country who will represent their state at the national awards in Canberra on January 25 next year, where the four Australians of the Year will be announced.
Kurt champions the rights of people with disability and advocates for greater access into communities and workplaces. His determination and love of life provides inspiration to all Australians.
The 37-year-old athlete and advocate for people with a disability from Carcoar has already received the Order of Australia.
Mr Fearnley, who was born without part of his spine, represented Australia over a 20-year wheelchair-racing career.
He participated in five Paralympic games, winning 13 medals, including three gold.
This year, he ended his international career on a high – with gold and silver medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and carrying the Australian flag in the closing ceremony.
According to a statement released by the awards coordinators ahead of Monday’s ceremony, Mr Fearnley’ “indomitable spirit was apparent at an early age, when he would crawl through paddocks with his brothers and sisters and race his wheelchair down the grass track at school athletics carnivals”.
In 2009, he crawled the entire 96 kilometres of the Kokoda Track to raise awareness for men’s health.
In 2011 he crewed on the winning yacht in the gruelling Sydney-Hobart yacht race.
“Kurt champions the rights of people with disability and advocates for greater access into communities and workplaces. His determination and love of life provides inspiration to all Australians,” the statement read.
NSW’s other recipients were Heather Lee OAM (NSW Senior Australian of the Year); Jarrod Wheatley (NSW Young Australian of the Year); and Sophie Smith (NSW Local Hero).
For more information on the Australian of the Year Awards visit www.australianoftheyear.org.au.
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