Aussie wheelchair star rules jungle

PORT MORESBY - Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley completed a gruelling 96km crawl along a jungle track yesterday, just weeks after taking the New York Marathon wheelchair title.

PORT MORESBY - Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley completed a gruelling 96km crawl along a jungle track yesterday, just weeks after taking the New York Marathon wheelchair title.

The three-time Paralympic gold medallist, who was born without the lower part of his spine, said hauling himself on hands and knees along the famed Kokoda track was the biggest challenge of his life.

"Mate, I just was hurting. It was the toughest thing I've ever done," he said.

Fearnley spent 10 days completing the rugged and demanding track, site of a World War II battle between Australian and Japanese troops, to raise money for charity.

"We made it," Fearnley said in a post on his blog from the jungle track.

"Sitting at Owers Corner enjoying a couple of beers. Mum and dad are here. Amazing experience - I'm so happy we're here."

Fearnley, 28, conquered the route with specially made shinpads and padded gloves and after 12 months of training. He has enjoyed a stellar career in wheelchair athletics, including marathon and 5000m gold medals at Athens in 2004, marathon gold last year in Beijing and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic games. Fearnley has bagged four consecutive New York Marathon wheelchair titles, the most recent just three weeks ago.

"To call him a superhero or superhuman is not too far from the truth," said trek leader Wayne Weatherall. - Sapa-AP

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