AFTER bearing the flag of his nation in a moment of great personal importance during the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, Kurt Fearnley was even-handed as the outrage flared over television coverage that barely featured the event.
It is a testament to the man, born and raised in Carcoar and last week named NSW Australian of the Year, that he shifted the momentum of that public anger towards places it could do good.
“If we’re going to fire up … there’s so many reasons that we could be firing up right now,” he said amid the uproar.
Mr Fearnley’s career glitters with gold, silver and bronze medals from the world stage, but it also gleams with a kindness and passionate advocacy.
Congratulations Kurt, you are an absolute legend and an inspiration to everyone with whom you come into contact.Maxine Jackson
That kindness shone through as he returned to Australia from crawling the 96-kilometre Kokoda Track and refused to use an inappropriate wheelchair after a policy forced him to check his own.
Even in his criticism of the policy, Mr Fearnley praised airline staff.
Only a handful of Australians will trace the Kokoda Track, or help sail in the Sydney to Hobart.
Few will do both, and almost none while competing on the world stage and advocating for us all to do better.
News of Mr Fearnley’s latest accolade was greeted by Central Western Daily readers with universal approval.
“We couldn't have a better recipient. What an inspiration you are. The living, breathing meaning of an Aussie,” Tricia Dolstra wrote on a CWD Facebook post announcing the honour.
“Congratulations Kurt, you are an absolute legend and an inspiration to everyone with whom you come into contact,” Maxine Jackson wrote.
At the end of his professional sporting career earlier this year, the finish line of the marathon at the joint Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Mr Fearnley offered a few words that carry.
“If I can say anything to the next people coming up wearing the green and gold, when you get near a microphone, when you speak, err on the side of kindness … and if you can get here, bring your family with you, bring people with you because it makes it so much more worthwhile,” he said.
If that can be the guiding light of how we consider success in this country, we will all be richer for it.
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