The magical fairies who update our site for us have been on holiday over the winter, but with the start of a new month, it’s time to catch up! Today, we’re profiling Paralympian and Balmain Para-Rowing Program member Jeremy McGrath!
“I was born without a tibia and with a slightly shortened fibula in my right leg. When I was very young I could get around the house, awkwardly, on my right leg but for full mobility I have always needed a prosthesis.
After attending a Paralympic Talent Search in 2013, I was put in touch with Barbara Ramjan at Balmain Rowing Club. The Club has a strong para-rowing program and I began rowing with them in May 2013.
“In 2009, at aged 16, I underwent elective surgery to have my left leg removed below the knee. I made the decision because of the increasing cumbersome nature on the prosthesis I was using. As I grew, they were becoming very big and they had heavy metal braces on the sides and strapping up to my thighs.
“Since the amputation I have been using much more streamlined appliances fitting from just below the knee, without straps or braces. Sadly, though, I found playing soccer, which I had done since the age of 4 or 5, difficult as the prosthesis became loose if I sweated too much and could come off while running.
“During the 2012 Olympics, I began to wonder whether rowing might be a good sport for me to try. I began rowing in December 2012, after my HSC, with Macquarie University Rowing Club. After attending a Paralympic Talent Search in 2013, I was put in touch with Barbara Ramjan at Balmain Rowing Club. The Club has a strong para-rowing program and I began rowing with them in May 2013. My prosthetists, Stefan Laux and Cameron Ward (ACP Prosthetics) adapted an old prosthesis for me, adding a mechanism that allows for ankle inflexion.
“I first raced in June 2013 in the JB Sharp winter series of regattas, for Balmain Rowing Club in para-rowing and able-bodied men’s novice events. I enjoy racing in able-bodied men’s events for all categories of boats in club regattas whenever possible.
“Since then I have had some terrific successes in LTA single sculls as well as in LTA double sculls with my rowing partner, Kate Murdoch. She and I have had a series of wins at club regattas but our greatest successes have been winning gold at the recent NSW State Championship and Australian National Championship regattas and winning silver at the World Championships in 2014.”
Jeremy was part of the LTA Mix Fixed Four that won gold at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta and Gavirate International Para-Rowing Regatta in Italy in April 2016 to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics, where they won the B-final.