Rising para swimmers awarded Kurt Fearnley Scholarships

05 April 2019

As recipients of inaugural Kurt Fearnley Scholarships, rising stars of the pool Jasmine Greenwood and Ricky Betar will benefit from mentoring by one of Australian sport’s most admired athletes.

The duo has been awarded scholarships along with three other para athletes – athletics’ Luke Bailey, Aimee Fisher and Alissa Jordaan. 

Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) and the Carbine Club of NSW have joined forces to create the scholarship program targeting talented individual para-sport athletes in NSW. The initiative receives program support from NSWIS and is also fully endorsed by Paralympics Australia.

Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipients will receive financial support up to $3750 based on their individual requirements, NSWIS program support up to $1000 including assistance with performance planning and access to NSWIS facilities, and most importantly for many, mentorship from the dual Commonwealth Games and three-time Paralympic gold medallist.

A versatile competitor, Betar competes in the 100m backstroke and butterfly, 200m freestyle and 200m individual medley events. He has set a string of national records in his class in the past twelve months and won seven gold medals at the 2018 Australian Age Championships.

Identified as podium ready, Greenwood swam in the 100m breaststroke (SB9) and 200m individual medley (SM10) events at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, finishing 5th in both disciplines.

Both Betar and Greenwood will compete at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Championships which kick on this Sunday at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide.

Fearnley congratulated Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW for their initiative in introducing the scholarships and thanked NSWIS for their support.

“This is a ripper for these young athletes,” Fearnley said.

“I remember what it was like when I was a young athlete without much financial support or access to facilities.  They have all been identified as emerging, developing or podium potential athletes, but that often doesn’t mean they are eligible for any support – until now. So these scholarships will help this group in a very important way and I’m thrilled to be able to work with them all,” Fearnley added.

Fearnley bowed out of international competition representing Australia with an emotional win in the T54 marathon on the streets of the Gold Coast twelve months ago, an effort that saw him become the first Para-sport athlete to win Sport Australia Hall of Fame’s ‘The Don’ Award, as the athlete who had most inspired the nation. He concluded his international representative career as a two-time Commonwealth Games and three-time Paralympic gold medallist. He has won over 30 marathons, including New York, Chicago and London in a career spanning more than 20 years. In 2009 Kurt crawled the Kokoda track, in Papua New Guinea, to raise awareness of men’s health. Kurt was also a member of the winning Sydney to Hobart yacht crew in 2012. He is New South Wales Australian of the Year for 2019.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship program was a fitting legacy for one of Australian sport’s great contributors.

“When asked to design a program by the Carbine Club, Commonwealth Games Australia had no hesitation in creating and investing in the Kurt Fearnley Scholarships as part of our $13million funding for Australian athletes and teams ahead of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games,” Phillips said

“The Kurt Fearnley Scholarships will support up to five talented NSW para-athletes per year who currently receive limited support and show outstanding potential for future success in identified Commonwealth Games para-sport events - athletics, swimming, cycling, basketball, lawn bowls, triathlon, powerlifting and any newly identified 2022 Commonwealth sports.”

Scholarship support will be individualised to the recipient and can include financial assistance, individual athlete performance planning, training, funding to competitions at domestic or international level, customised sport equipment and where necessary, classification confirmation.

Scholarships will focus on talented junior/youth para athletes who have their sights sets on the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, pre-elite senior athletes will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

NSWIS CEO Kevin Thompson is delighted about the additional support to Paralympic athletes.

“Through our strong partnership with Paralympics Australia, NSWIS has been a leader in promoting equity and integration of para performance across the national sporting system,” Thompson said.

“The Kurt Fearnley Scholarships provide further support to some of our state’s most promising young para athletes and we applaud the efforts of Commonwealth Games Australia and the Carbine Club of NSW on driving the initiative.”

All three organisations have committed their support for the program until 2022, which will fund four annual scholarship periods. Scholarships will be approved through CGA annually based on selection guidelines and will monitored through NSWIS to maximise performance impact.

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