As the clock ticked over to 100 days to go until the Tokyo Paralympic Games, Paralympic gold medalist Curtis McGrath took a moment to reflect on all that it has taken to get to this point.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic having delayed the games by 12 months, McGrath said milestones like this are a good reminder of progress.
“Everyday brings it closer and now with 100 days to go – you can’t count it on your fingers yet but it’s starting to feel real.
“It’s been a really long season, with lots of paddling, so this marks an important point where we know the Paralympics is within reach,” McGrath said.
Having created history at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, winning Australia’s first para-canoe gold medal, McGrath has his eyes on repeating success.
“It would be really special to win gold again in Tokyo, but when I think back to Rio my approach was a little different in terms of motivation,” McGrath said.
“For me, it was part of my recovery journey and the culmination of everything I had been through in the four years prior.
“When I was being carried on the stretcher in Afghanistan I said that I would go to the Paralympics, and that’s what I wanted to do.
“This Games is a little more selfish, I want to go there and I want to win.
“To stand on top of the podium will always be special, but to stand on top of the podium after everything that has happened in the last 12 months would be incredible,” he said.
McGrath will head to Adelaide tomorrow, where he will be joined by all of his para-canoe team mates at the 2021 Paddle Australia Canoe Sprint Championships.
“Sprint Nationals will be a good gauge setting of how we’re going, and if our training’s all in line with where we want to be at this stage,” McGrath said.
“It will be nice to be able to race and compete again – looking at the bigger picture, to be able to have the opportunity to race is amazing.
“We’re jealous of our competitors who got to compete at the recent World Cup, but also grateful that we’ve been given this opportunity at Sprint Nationals.
“I’m fortunately, but maybe unfortunately the only KL2 paddler in Australia that races competitively.
“Nationals will be a measure of myself against the clock but it will be good to create targets for myself based on the people around me like my team mate Dylan Littlehales,” he said.
With the entire Olympic and Paralympic sprint teams racing in Adelaide, McGrath is looking forward to having all the teams back together again.
“Paddle Australia have put together a pretty amazing, team orientated group – and having all the different teams come together for events like this is great to be a part of.
”I’m incredibly grateful to be part of a team that’s really inclusive and gives us the opportunity to race no matter what,” he said.