DISCOVER MORE ABOUT

THIS SOLDIER TURNED

SPORTING SUPERSTAR

A TRUE STORY OF

TRIUMPH OVER

TRAGEDY

NEXT CHALLENGE

The Athlete

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  • 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.

  • Australian Paracanoe Squad

    It’s been a great start to the international season for the Australian Paracanoe squad, the team winning the inaugural “Paracanoe Ashes” trophy following a tough weekend of racing against Great Britain in Nottingham.

    Held at the National Water Sports Centre, the #nottsregatta was the perfect preparation for both squads as they prepare for the ICF Paracanoe World Cup 1 in Szeged, Hungary from the eighteen to the twentieth of May.

    Despite a disrupted preparation, RIO 2017 Paralympic gold medallist and current World Champion Curtis McGrath claimed gold in both key events with quick times of 43.36 and 43.37 in the men’s KL2 200M edging out Britain’s Nick Beighton.

    Speaking after the second race Curtis McGrath said: “It’s always great having somebody pushing you along and nice to have some competition, Nick is one of the world’s best and it would be nice to see him stepping up a few more notches on the podium.

    “It’s the first time that Australia Paracanoe has been able to come over, so it’s nice to have that international competition to see where everyone else is at and be part of the regatta.”

    McGrath also tasted success in the men’s VL3 200m category to lead the Australian’s to a moral building victory as they count down to Hungary where the squad will be joined by the Olympic class, Australian sprint team.

  • McGrath ready for World Cup Challenge

    On the eve of the World Cup Sprint Canoe regatta in Hungary and Australian Paralympic and World Champion Curtis McGrath faces one of the toughest challenges of his sprint Kayak career following a change in race classifications.

    “We’ve had a few shuffles around with the classes, there’s a couple of guys that have been moved down from the top class which is the fastest division to my class, so that should make for some interesting racing”

    Despite the increased competition, last week’s World Cup warm up event against Great Britain was significant for Curtis in that he won the V1 class race, which is a new addition to his race schedule and contested in the tougher VL3 class.

    Szeged is located at the southern end of Hungary near the Serbian border and while the air temperature is a cool 13 degrees, the water temperature on course is significantly warmer and according to Curtis conducive to strong racing and good times”

    “Practice has been pretty good, the start gates are a bit tricky and perhaps a little slower than we are used to, and I am expecting we will run into a little head wind, but it’s a great course”

    “Hungary is a pretty good place to race, it’s their national sport, so they really do put on a good show, they are currently putting up a huge big screen in front of the grand stand and the banks will be filled with people with drums and horns and they really get into the racing which will be a pretty good atmosphere and I’m looking forward to that, it’s the first time I have raced here as well so I am looking forward to that”

    Injury and sickness have hampered preparations for some of the Australian team, however McGrath says he is fighting fit and relaxed ahead of one of the year’s biggest race regattas.

    “it’s interesting leading in the day before an event to be honest, I don’t really feel much pressure the day before, it’s more the day of and especially in the warm up when you don’t really know what everyone else has got in their bag and then once they pull out all their tricks, you see how it unfolds at the finish line”

    Curtis will race the same jet-black Kayak he launched in Nottingham last weekend, eager to promote Septembers Invictus Games to the international community.

    “I’m racing both of those boats again here in Hungary at the World Cup, looking forward to it and the boat is looking really good with the Invictus Games, AON and Jaguar logos all over the sleek black craft”

    “Invictus games tickets go on sale really soon, pre-sale is on at the moment and it will be a really exciting time for the Invictus time in Sydney”

    Click on the link provided to order your tickets today: www.invictusgames2018.org/the-games/tickets/

  • Paracanoe World Cup in Hungary

    It’s been a busy period for Curtis McGrath in Europe, the World and Paralympic Champion Curtis McGrath overcoming a late classification change to secure the narrowest of victories in last weekends Paracanoe World Cup in Hungary.

    While always up for the challenge, the reclassification into the highly competitive VL3 class forced Curtis to dig deep for the wins, over coming the slow start gates to power home by the narrowest of margins.

    The reclassification has Curtis looking at training and race techniques as he looks to achieve the best possible boat speed.

    “Been bumped up into the VL3 class which is the most able class, the fastest class and I managed to hold on just, again with a win over Khaytmurot Sherkuziev from Uzbekistan, he’s a single leg amputee so has one good leg and I am starting to use a bit more leg drive in my boat to try and keep up with those guys”

    “I came away with two Gold Medals, hard fought gold medals, I had to really push hard against a new contender in my class who had dropped down from the class above me, so he’s nice and fast and really pushed me all the way. I had a bit of a bad start so made things a bit hard over the whole race at the end, but managed to get the work done”

    While Gold always numbs the pain, Curtis was disappointed to have missed a new World Fastest time by just two tenths of a second in his V1 race.

    “I stuffed up one of my changes, so I reckon next time if I get that all down pat and have a nice tail wind I will mage to get that Worlds fastest time”

    After Hungary, Curtis joined the Australian team in Duisburg, Germany for training ahead of the second World Cup round, also working on a new developmental project with Nello Kayaks.

    “I have been trialling the new V1 that Nello kayaks is developing for the sport, it’s a very interesting craft, it’s still in the development stage at the moment and so every day I come along and try it and give them some pointers and they change it overnight and they change it overnight and we come back and try it again. We did a couple of time trials today with some gps tracking on the boat, so we got a chance to compare the data”

    Training with the senior squad, McGrath also performed a number of other duties for the squad including a take-over of their social media platform during racing, saying he was impressed with the team’s performances on water which resulted in three bronze medals and a host of finals appearances.

    From Duisburg, the Australian men’s head to Munich before making the trek home to the Gold Coast and preparations for their next regatta.

    “Munich next Wednesday with the senior men’s team for a team building camp which should be quite good to be a part of and get some good training done before I get back to Australia where the distractions are”.

The Soldier

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

A huge task to defend a gold medal so this will be another level of competition and challenges. With the inclusion of the VL3 event Curtis will be aiming to claim two medals this time...

Paracanoe World Championships

14 / Aug / 19

The first event to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games. The first 6 across the line gain one place for their nation. This event will be hotly contested.

Invictus Games Sydney

18 / Oct / 18

The 4th Invictus Games will be held in Sydney, Australia and it will be bigger and more spectacular than ever. Curtis won't be competing here as he is an ambassador for the Games. You will see him on the side lines with his pom poms cheering.
Keep and eye out for tickets.

Result: DNS

Paracanoe World Championships

21 / Aug / 18

The event everyone aims for each year. Curtis will try once again try to defend his current world championship medals in VL2 and KL2.
Held in
Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal.

Result: 1st 200m KL2 and 1st 200m VL3

Paracanoe World Cup

10 / May / 18

A great event to see how all the paracanoe athletes
are tracking towards the world championships in August.
With the inclusion of the VL2 event in Tokyo the number and competition will surely get stronger as we get closer to 2020.
Held in Szeged, Hungary.

Result: 1st 200m KL2 and 1st 200m VL3

Invictus Games Toronto

23 / Sep / 17

The Invictus Games are getting bigger and better every year. In this amazing event Curtis loves to represent Australia at will be held in Toronto, Canada.
Curtis will be looking to do something new and exciting here in Toronto.

Result: 1st in the 4min and 2nd in the 1min Indoor Rowing. 4th in the Wheelchair Rugby

Paracanoe World Championships

23 / Aug / 17

5 years to the day Curtis was injured he will be back to defend his World Championship in Racice, Czech Republic.

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

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

Complete Results

01 / Jan / 16

2017
1st (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Racice, Czech Rep)
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Racice, Czech Rep)

2016
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)

2015
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)
2nd (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)

2014
1st (V1 200m) TA – ICF World Championships (Moscow, RUS)

2017 Invictus Games - Toronto.
Indoor Rowing
1st (4min),
2nd (1min),
4th Wheelchar Rugby

2016 Invictus Games - Orlando.
Indoor Rowing 1st (1min)
Swimming 3x 2nd places.

2014 Invictus Games - London
Swimming 2nd and 3rd.
SEE MORE RESULTS

2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games

05 / Sep / 20

A huge task to defend a gold medal so this will be another level of competition and challenges. With the inclusion of the VL3 event Curtis will be aiming to claim two medals this time...

Paracanoe World Championships

14 / Aug / 19

The first event to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games. The first 6 across the line gain one place for their nation. This event will be hotly contested.

Invictus Games Sydney

18 / Oct / 18

The 4th Invictus Games will be held in Sydney, Australia and it will be bigger and more spectacular than ever. Curtis won't be competing here as he is an ambassador for the Games. You will see him on the side lines with his pom poms cheering.
Keep and eye out for tickets.

Result: DNS

Paracanoe World Championships

21 / Aug / 18

The event everyone aims for each year. Curtis will try once again try to defend his current world championship medals in VL2 and KL2.
Held in
Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal.

Result: 1st 200m KL2 and 1st 200m VL3

Paracanoe World Cup

10 / May / 18

A great event to see how all the paracanoe athletes
are tracking towards the world championships in August.
With the inclusion of the VL2 event in Tokyo the number and competition will surely get stronger as we get closer to 2020.
Held in Szeged, Hungary.

Result: 1st 200m KL2 and 1st 200m VL3

Invictus Games Toronto

23 / Sep / 17

The Invictus Games are getting bigger and better every year. In this amazing event Curtis loves to represent Australia at will be held in Toronto, Canada.
Curtis will be looking to do something new and exciting here in Toronto.

Result: 1st in the 4min and 2nd in the 1min Indoor Rowing. 4th in the Wheelchair Rugby

Paracanoe World Championships

23 / Aug / 17

5 years to the day Curtis was injured he will be back to defend his World Championship in Racice, Czech Republic.

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

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

Complete Results

01 / Jan / 16

2017
1st (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Racice, Czech Rep)
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF Paracanoe World Championships (Racice, Czech Rep)

2016
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)

2015
1st (V1 200m) VL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)
2nd (K1 200m) KL2 – ICF World Championships (Milan, ITA)

2014
1st (V1 200m) TA – ICF World Championships (Moscow, RUS)

2017 Invictus Games - Toronto.
Indoor Rowing
1st (4min),
2nd (1min),
4th Wheelchar Rugby

2016 Invictus Games - Orlando.
Indoor Rowing 1st (1min)
Swimming 3x 2nd places.

2014 Invictus Games - London
Swimming 2nd and 3rd.

Gallery

Motivational Speaker

Hard working yet humble, Curtis McGrath has spoken at many public events about his life, inspiring people and companies to work towards their own goals. To enquire email below. 

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Thanks to Canoe Photography & Sportscene. Website made on the Gold Coast