Aussie veteran vying for more Paralympic gold

Wednesday, August 25 2021

The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Curtis McGrath holding up his Paracanoeing gold medal and a stuffed toy mascot from the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics. He is smiling and wearing an Australian green and gold waterproof jacket.

Australians are celebrating our veterans competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee spoke with former Australian Army Sapper and Paralympian Curtis McGrath OAM, to wish him and the entire Australian Paralympic Team good luck in Tokyo.

Curtis was three months into a tour of Afghanistan as an Australian Army Combat Engineer when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Tragically, he lost both his legs, shattered bones in his wrist, sustained burns to his left arm, had perforated ear drums and a large wound at the back of his thigh.

Curtis McGrath with his Australian Army mates in Afghanistan. They are dressed in camouflage uniform and there is a hilly, desert in the background.

Just nine years after his life-threatening injuries he is looking to win back-to-back Paralympic Gold Medals in the Paracanoeing.

Minister Gee said it was an honour to speak with Curtis as he prepares to defend his Paralympic title.

“Curtis is an extraordinarily bright and talented young Australian who has worked extremely hard following his life threatening injuries while on active service, to reach the summit of Paralympic achievement in such a short time,” Minister Gee said.

“His resilience, hard work and determination are qualities shared by so many of our Defence personnel and veterans, and his story shows how sport can change your life against all odds.

“Curtis has served our country in peacetime and war, he’s a Paralympic gold medallist and an athlete we’re all very proud of, including the veteran community.

“He’s achieved so much at such a young age which is a testament to his determination and drive.”

Curtis McGrath in a video call with Minister Andrew Gee. Both of them are smiling.

Curtis McGrath said it was a pleasure to share his story with Minister Gee.

“I’m humbled to be able to represent my country alongside so many inspirational Australians at the Paralympic Games,” Mr McGrath said.

“My Army mates saved my life back in 2012 and I hope my story can inspire other defence personnel and veterans who face adversity to persevere and find a passion to help them through, for me it was sport.”

“All of our Aussie athletes personify the Paralympic values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality, and their families and friends should be extremely proud,” Minister Gee said.

“I wish all Australians, including Curtis and our competing veterans all the very best of luck in Tokyo. We’re all behind you.

“Although fans won’t be there in person to wave the Aussie flag in the stands, we’ll all certainly be there watching the telly and cheering them on from home.

“We saw how much the Olympics lifted our spirits in a difficult time, so now let’s bring on the Paralympic Games — Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!”

Read more about Curtis’ story on the Australian War Memorial website.

The Paralympic Games began on 24 August with the Paracanoeing events from 2 to 4 September.

Media contacts

Minister Gee’s office: 0459 966 944
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon. Andrew Gee, Canberra ACT.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms website. Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072. Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Department of Defence website. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608.