The Athlete

  • Thirty minutes

    Thirty minutes after losing both his legs in an horrific blast in Afghanistan, in those traumatic moments as he was being stretchered from the bomb site, Curtis was already thinking about pursuing a career as an amputee athlete. Fully aware of his grim situation and partly to maintain consciousness as a survival mechanism, he joked with those helping him about becoming a Paralympian.

    He didn’t know what sport he was going to do, but his positive outlook and determination to rebound and get on with achieving his driving ambitions is what has made this man get to where he is today.

    He tried his hand at a few sports but settled on canoeing, an activity he’d dabbled in at school.

  • Two years

    Not even two years after tragically becoming a bilateral amputee, Curtis was competing at a National level against other Para-athletes in the physically demanding sport of Sprint Canoe.

    Already breaking world records, his ability to adapt to his disability has amazed many people and now he’s well on his way to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

  • Dominating

    Curtis has dominated all the local, national and international meets he’s competed in, including the Oceania Sprint Canoe Championship and the World Sprint Canoe Championship.

    It’s still early going and he has a long road ahead, but he is striving to be able to represent his country, not on the battlefield this time, but proudly on the sporting field.

The Soldier

  • The Young Soldier

    23rd of August, 2012

    On the 23rd of August, 2012, young soldier Curtis McGrath’s life changed forever. The decorated Sapper was two months into a tour of Taliban-rife areas of Afghanistan when he stepped on a homemade landline, otherwise known as an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The then 24-year-old tragically lost both his legs in the blast.

    Curtis enlisted into the Australian Army on the 12th June, 2006, at the age of 18. His focus immediately turned to Combat Engineering, a role thats main aim is to “Provide mobility whilst denying the enemy mobility”. Duties range from building structures and converting seawater into drinking water for both the Army and the local populous, to destroying bridges and clearing mines and booby traps.

  • Combat Engineer Regiment

    In May 2007 Curtis was posted to First Combat Engineer Regiment in Darwin. Here he was a part of a field troop of 30 soldiers that was sent to Malaysia for three months in early 2008 to conduct jungle training.

    He was then deployed to East Timor for eight months to be part of Operation Astute. Here his team built bridges, a water tank for an orphanage, and a medical centre for a remote, local village. During this deployment Curtis was put on a Junior Leadership Course - the first promotion course a soldier can undertake. Curtis did so well in the program he was named Student of Merit (top of the class).

  • Engineer Support Regiment

    At the beginning of 2010 McGrath was posted to 6th Engineer Support Regiment in Brisbane. This specialised engineer unit performs larger construction tasks and more difficult engineering assignments that the regular combat engineer regiments do not have the scope to conduct.

    It was here that Curtis was asked if he would like a future deployment to Afghanistan, to which he said yes, and began his training in late 2011.

  • Middle East

    The headquarters of this crucial deployment was within 3rd Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville. This was where the battle group conducted the majority of it’s pre-deployment training.

    Exactly six years after enlisting in the Australian Army, and following intensive preparations, Curtis was deployed with 90 other Combat Engineers to the Middle East for his first taste of action in a decreed war-zone. Curtis and his team’s job was to search for IEDs and to clear the way for the rest of the forces following. This role is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

The Training

  • From one boat,

    to the next

    Curtis only took up outrigger canoeing in January 2014 and has made it all the way to be one of the fastest sprint canoeist in the world. In 2015 the International Paralympic Committee made the decision to replace the outrigger canoe with the sprint kayak. Curtis has had to quickly adapt to the kayak to be eligible for the Paralympics.

    Currently he trains 12 times a week during the build-up to a competition. This training is given by an elite kayaker and now Australian Paracanoe Coach Andrea King. She has had Curtis working hard right from the word go.

  • Discipline

    Curtis believes it is the discipline from being a soldier that makes him such an elite, professional athlete.

    He has used his Army training and lifestyle to transition across to his elite-level sporting ambitions.

  • AIS

    Curtis’s training happens in cycles, changing from sprint to endurance and back. Regular gym sessions is part of his routine, and with the help of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) he has the use of the best facilities available.

The Legs

  • The Legs

    Curtis McGrath lost his right leg above the knee and the left leg just below the knee.

    After a miraculously speedy recovery and rehabilitation process, Curtis was fitted with legs made by Otto Bock, a German company first started after World War I.

  • X3

    The legs he has now are state-of-the-art prosthetics. On the right Curtis was fitted with the X3 micro processor knee - this is the top-of-the-line in the prosthetic leg world. It is saltwater proof and extremely robust. It has four micro processors and 16 sensors spread throughout the knee.

    It is powered by an extremely efficient lithium battery that lasts over five days without need to recharge. It has a bluetooth remote to change up to five modes, from biking, golfing, driving, cycling and more.

  • Technology

    On his left leg left the technology doesn’t need to be as sophisticated because Curtis still has his knee, so it’s just a simple below-knee prosthetic with a socket and silicon liner, but as the technology advances the adaptions to the prosthesis will continue to become more life like.

Events & Results

2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games

05 / Sep / 20

Now is the time for a refocus and Curtis is aiming to defend his gold medal from 2016 Paralympics in Rio

Invictus Games Toronto

23 / Sep / 17

These competitions are getting bigger and better. An amazing event Curtis loves to represent Australia at will be held in Toronto, Canada.
Curtis will look to do something new and exciting here.

2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games

07 / Sep / 16

This is the big one.
The event all the hard work and years of dedication that all the para-athletes of the world aim for.
Here Curtis is competing in Paracanoe, in the KL2 class.

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, Leblon, Rio de Janeiro.

Result: 1st 200m KL2

Paracanoe World Championships

18 / May / 16

The last four spots for the Paralympics will be picked here. The top four that have not already qualified will be selected at the discretion of the International Canoe Federation.
Lucky enough for Curtis, he has already secured Australia a spot for his class.
For Curtis this event will be a good test to see where he sits compared to the rest of the world before the games and to contend for the 2016 World Championships.

Duisburg, Germany

Result: 1st 200m KL2, 1st 200m VL2

Australian National Sprint Canoe Championships

02 / Mar / 16

National Championships is the selection for the Australian Sprint Canoe Team to represent Australia at the up and coming international events.

This is the last hurdle for Curtis and his quest to make it to the Paralympics, a win here will secure his spot to wear the green and gold at the games.

Champion Lakes, Perth, WA

Result: 1st 200m, 500m, 1000m Para K1 AND V1

World Sprint Canoe Championship

19 / Aug / 15

This event is the target for all sprint canoe athletes. This event is the qualifying event for the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

For Curtis the International Paralympic Committee will be taking the top six from the final and an additional selection of four more athletes from the 2016 Paracanoe World Championships at the discretion of the International Canoe Federation.

Milan, Italy.

Result: 2nd 200m KL2, 1st 200m VL2

Complete Results

01 / Jan / 16

1st (K1 200m) KL2 Paracanoe Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
1st (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Duisburg, Germany)
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Duisburg, Germany)
1st (K1 200m) KL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (K1 500m) KL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (V1 500m) VL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (K1 1000m) KL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (V1 1000m) VL2 – National Championships (Champion Lakes, WA)
1st (K1 200m) KL2 – Grand Prix 2 (West Lake, SA)
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – Grand Prix 2 (West Lakes, SA)

1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)
2nd (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)
2nd (K1 200m) KL2 – Paralympic Test Event (Rio de Janeiro, BRA)
1st (K1 200m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 200m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (K1 500m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 500m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (K1 1000m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 1000m) TA – National Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (K1 200m) TA – Grand Prix 2 (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 200m) TA – Grand Prix 2 (SIRC, NSW)

1st (V1 200m) TA – ICF World Championships (Moscow, RUS)
1st (V1 200m) TA – Oceania Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 500m) TA – Oceania Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 1000m) TA – Oceania Championships (SIRC, NSW)
1st (V1 200m) TA – National Championships (West Lakes, SA)
1st (V1 500m) TA – National Championships (West Lakes, SA)
1st (V1 1000m) TA – National Championships (West Lakes, SA).

2016 Invictus Games -
Indoor Rowing IR4(TA) Class - 1st 1min Sprint Row.
Swimming ISB Class - 2nd 50m Backstroke, 2nd 50m Breaststroke, 2nd 100m Freestyle.

2014 Invictus Games -
Swimming ISB Class - 2nd 50m Backstroke, 3rd 50m Breaststroke, 6th 50m Freestyle, 7th 100m Freestyle and 5th Mixed 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay.
Archery - 6th Mixed Individual Recurve Open, 4th Mixed Team Recurve Open.


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