McGrath Named Paris 2024 Paralympic Co-Captain with One Year To Go

Triple Paralympic canoeing gold medallist Curtis McGrath has been bestowed the honour and responsibility of leading the Australian Paralympic Team at the Paris 2024 Games, which start exactly one year from today, alongside six-time Paralympic Games athletics representative Angie Ballard.

McGrath and Ballard were told of their ascension to the co-captaincy by Danni Di Toro and Ryley Batt, who led the Australian Paralympic Team brilliantly through the Covid-affected Tokyo 2020 Games.

The moment was captured by Nine, Paralympics Australia’s Official Broadcast Partner for Paris 2024.

“To be seen as a leader is a great honour and a humble position to be in,” said McGrath, who became a double leg amputee in an explosion while he was serving as an army combat engineer in Afghanistan.

“At the same time, the action of leadership, for me, is about example and speaking up and stepping up when it’s required.”

McGrath won the gold medal in the KL2 canoe sprint at Rio 2016, where the sport made its debut on the Paralympic program.

At Tokyo 2020, he successfully defended his title and also won the gold medal in the VL3 Va’a outrigger.

Just this week, McGrath won KL2 gold and VL3 bronze at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships in Germany; his 11th World title since 2014.

“I picked up my injury in 2012 … and not really knowing where I could go or what I could be was a daunting challenge and issue,” he said.

“Re-establishing my love for sport and having a purpose and a journey – and now an amazing family and team – it’s been a heck of a journey and I’m really grateful to be a part of it.”

McGrath said, as co-captain, he wanted to make sure each member of the Australian Paralympic Team “is nurtured and supported along the way”.

Ballard and McGrath were appointed to the captaincy through a nomination process that was open to all members of the Australian Paralympic Team Long List, those athletes put forward by their sports as being possible members of the Paris 2024 Team. The shortlist of nominees was discussed by the Paralympics Australia Athlete Commission and Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin gave the final sign-off.

“It’s wonderful that the athletes have had a voice and have been able to articulate who they want to lead them,” McLoughlin said.

“They are just two amazing human beings who’ve been around sport for a very long time and will do a fantastic job in Paris. They’re fantastic role models for the rest of the team.”

McLoughlin praised Di Toro and Batt for their outstanding leadership during the Tokyo campaign. She said having them available as mentors for the new captains was a sign of the strength and closeness of the Australian Paralympic Team.

During the handover, Di Toro said: “When I look at the two of you I see really different leaders. With Curtis, there’s a new energy about it for you and a real strength and professionalism. I see you working hard every single day to do whatever you can for every person in this movement.

“For Ange, I love you and I’ve seen you grow and become this really incredible leader. It’s quiet but, man, do not mess with Angie Ballard because she’s a fierce advocate.”

Batt, a global star of wheelchair rugby, said: “We’re always here for advice if you want to pick our brain. It doesn’t mean it’s always the right advice! But I’m just so honoured to be able to pass on the captaincy to you.

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