Local residents caught up with three time Paralympic gold medalist and 2019 NSW Australian of the Year Kurt Fearnley during his special guest appearance at a cancer charity fundraiser.
The Commonwealth Games gold medalist from Newcastle shot the breeze with fans, residents and visitors at a charity luncheon hosted by Tacking Point Tavern on March 22.
Fearnley is widely recognised as Australia's most famous wheelchair racer with seven world titles and an appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia.
He is the first athlete with a disability to win The Don Award, has crewed the winning yacht in the 2011 Sydney to Hobart race and has conquered the entire 96km length of the Kokoda Track.
He took time out before the luncheon to answer some questions from the public.
What are your most memorable highlights over 25 years in the sporting zone?
"After twenty five years of racing wheelchairs there's lots of highlights," he said.
"The five Paralympics, three Commonwealth Games.
"The New York Marathon is one of the best incredible moments, as is winning the first gold medal in Athens and winning another one in Beijing."
What have been some of the biggest challenges along the way?
"There has been some challenges and marathons are about dealing with those challenges," he said.
"I take each and every race as it presents itself.
"You need the discipline not just for a week or a month but for a decade, some of those (races) require that dedication for the ten years to achieve."
What advice would you give to an aspiring athlete to get through those challenges?
"A love of what I do kept me going, a love of the sport I was introduced to as a kid," he said.
"That's probably the biggest thing that kept me in the sport and a desire to see how strong I could get.
"For any aspiring athletes, I chat to them about what they want from the sport.
"And just remind them that it's a long game, there's no quick win and there's no shortcuts.
"If you're into sport then it needs to be for the long game to get those real experiences and real gains."
What's next for Kurt Fearnley, is there more racing ahead?
"It's nice to know there's no more competitions for Australia, every race I run is under my own terms," he said.
"I've done a bit of high school teaching, working with the disability employment sector and within the school system.
"Teaching abroad with schools internationally (for the Ruben Centre's non-profit educational work in Nairobi).
"It's more about enjoyment."
How is your teaching going with international non-profit projects and is there enough support?
"Abroad we need a load of work done, there's two thirds of people who require a wheelchair who don't have one and may never see one," he said.
"The likelihood that those kids will receive a days education is pretty low.
"I'd encourage people to engage with change in our community, commit time or effort into something that aligns with your personal values."
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