Inspiring Paralympian Curtis McGrath will be competing at the 2017 Aon Sydney International Rowing Regatta (SIRR) this week, for the first time as a rower.
Having recently returned from the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where he achieved the amazing feat of winning a Paralympic gold medal at his inaugural Games, in the 200m Para-canoe sprint, McGrath has now decided to try his hand at rowing too.
McGrath was serving as an Australian Army combat engineer in Afghanistan in 2012 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, causing multiple life threatening injuries including the loss of his right leg above the knee and left leg below the knee.
“Subsequent to the accident, I chose that I would go to the Paralympics, so I had planted the seed for going to Rio,” admitted the 28-year-old.
Having competed at Rio, McGrath decided it was time to add another string to his bow and elected to add rowing to his busy training schedule. “Rowing was an obvious choice, it uses similar muscle groups and it’s on the water, so that’s the reason I came across and thought I’d have a go at doing two sports,” said McGrath.
He will be competing in the Trunk and Arms Men’s Single Scull at SIRR this week, but it all began at the ‘Train for Tokyo’ camp run by Rowing Australia in Canberra. Apart from the enjoyment he gained from learning to row in this camp, it was the experience out of the boat that stuck with him the most.
“To be able to make some new friends as well I think that’s also a great part of the sport, and it brings those like-minded people together… it’s a cool feeling to work as a team to achieve a goal,” added McGrath.
When questioned on his chances in the races this week, McGrath admitted the sport was very different to sprint canoe.
“Its [rowing] pretty tricky. With kayaking, everything is out in front of you and in rowing its all behind you, so it’s a big difference. When you get it right, though, it feels really good.”
McGrath also commented on looking towards the future, with a plan to add rowing at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games alongside his goal to go defend his title in Paralympic Sprint Canoe.
“Looking forward, I think I’d love to give it a crack and hopefully move on to Tokyo, in conjunction with the kayaking… so we will see how I go, but I’m going to try,” said the inspirational sportsman.