It is a sign of the impact you have had on your sport when things start getting named after you. Therefore yesterday was a significant day for NSWIS athletes and Australian sporting legends Kurt Fearnley and Christie Dawes, and also NSWIS & Australia Wheelchair Head Coach Andrew Dawes, as they helped open the newly resurfaced ‘Fearnley Dawes Athletic Centre’ in Newcastle.
Personal recognition was not at the forefront of any of their minds however, as they were more focussed on how the improved facilities – made possible thanks to an $800,000 grant from the NSW State Government – will impact future generations of Paralympic athletes.
The new facility is one of very few in the world to have a purpose built outside lane dedicated to wheelchair racers – which will not only help prolong careers of existing athletes, but also help to develop new athlete talent.
Three time Paralympic Gold medallist Fearnley said, “It’s good for our longer life in the sport. It’s a bit more gentler on our wrists and elbows to push around on the smoother surface. I can’t believe how it’s turned out.”
Andrew Dawes said, “Kurt and Christie have done amazing things over the last 10, 15, 20 years, but now we’re going to have a whole new range of athletes coming through as well.”
The facility is an excellent example of how collaboration between different sporting and government organisations can have a real impact on Australian athletes – and everyone at the launch hopes it will help to develop more gold medal winning athletes in the future.