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Kurt Fearnley
, 2012

by Adam Knott

inkjet print (sheet: 78.0 cm x 61.0 cm, image: 74.0 cm x 55.0 cm)

Kurt Fearnley OAM (b. 1981), world champion athlete, grew up in the New South Wales town of Carcoar where, despite being born without the lower part of his spine, he enthusiastically participated in football and other sporting activities. He took up wheelchair racing at fourteen and was nineteen when he took part in his first Paralympic games, in Sydney. Competing in the T54 category, he won silver medals in the 800 metres and the 4 x 100 metres relay. At the Paralympics in Athens in 2004, he claimed the gold medals in the 5000 metres and the marathon, wheeling the final five kilometres of the latter event with a flat tyre. Over the next decade, Fearnley added four IPC Athletics World Championship gold medals and one Commonwealth Games gold to his tally; successfully defended his Paralympic marathon title in Beijing; was victorious in the Chicago marathon three times (2007, 2008 and 2009); and also won the New York marathon four years running, from 2006 to 2009. That year, having crawled the Kokoda Track, he was named NSW Young Australian of the Year. In 2011, he took part in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race as a crew member of the winning Investec Loyal. At the 2012 London Paralympics he won silver in the 5000m, and bronze in the marathon (by 0.01 of a second). Fearnley remains the only athlete to have won both the Chicago and New York marathons three times, and to date has notched up a total of 31 international marathon victories, most recently the London marathon of 2013. An important spokesperson on disability issues, Fearnley was among the candidates for Young Australian of the Year in 2013. He is currently based in Newcastle NSW, where he works as a physical education teacher.

Adam Knott (b. 1966) began taking photographs for local newspapers as a schoolboy in Sydney before getting a job at News Limited as Rupert Murdoch’s copyboy. Having gained a photographic cadetship in 1985, he became nationwide Cadet of the Year and went to Hong Kong to work for the South China Morning Post. Back in Australia from 1989, he struck up friendships with photographers Max Dupain and David Moore, both of whom became his mentors. After a thirteen-year period working in the United States, Knott settled in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. His photographs have appeared in numerous magazines, most recently he has been staff photographer for the Weekend Australian Magazine, Wish magazine and the Deal. This portrait of Fearnley is one of the seven works by Knott in the Gallery’s collection.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.66