Australia Day

26 January 2015

185 days to go

Professor Brendan Burkett OAM

Professor Brendan Burkett OAM


Paralympic champion and professional engineer

Despite losing his leg in a hit and run accident in 1985, Brendan’s strength of character has turned tragedy into triumph.

On the sporting field, Brendan is a paralympic champion, world champion, world record holder, Commonwealth Games and Australian multiple medallist. Off the field, he is a fixture for leading and motivating the Australian Paralympic team—demonstrated by his appointments as Australian team captain for the Atlanta team in 1996, and the Opening Ceremony flag bearer in Sydney 2000.

The impact of Brendan's research in sports technology is evident—he was invited as a Professor for the European Masters in Physical Activity, and as part of the Long Term Health Strategy for the Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit.

The Sydney 2000 Paralympics was Brendan’s fourth games as an athlete, and he added another silver medal to his current collection of gold and silver from Atlanta in 1996, bronze from Barcelona in 1992, and a silver from Seoul in 1988. Brendan was the Sport Scientist for the Paralympic Games in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), and London (2012).

The significance of Brendan’s sporting achievements have been recognised at the highest level, including:

  • Australian Sports Medal, 2000
  • Paralympic torch relay member, 2000
  • Olympic torch relay member, 2000
  • Ambassador for the Sydney Paralympic Games, 1998
  • Order of Australia Medal (OAM), 1997
  • Australia Day Sporting Award, 1988.

In 2007, Brendan was inducted into Swimming Queensland’s Hall of Fame.

Brendan has combined his love of sport and quest for knowledge in a unique way. This is best exemplified in his achievements which integrate success on the international sporting arena as well as the completion of a degree and masters in Engineering, followed with a Ph.D. in Biomechanics. In 2000 he was awarded the Institution of Engineers Australia, Professional Engineer of the Year Award.

His work experience includes five years as a consulting engineer, which included 12 months as an engineer on the oil rigs in the North Sea (the first person with a disability to apply, pass the off shore medical, and then to work on the oil rigs). He is currently a Professor of Sport Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast.