“We got him interested in wheelchair racing,” Koch said. “Kurt put a lot of time into him and he blossomed.”
McCracken said: “He’s a great friend and someone that I think I could call on when I need.”
In 33 degree heat on Monday morning, McCracken recovered from a slow start to finish in second place in 15.37 seconds, just 0.36 seconds shy of Tunisia’s Walid Ktila in first place.
“I was sweating my ringer out to put it as politely as possible. I’ve never been so hot in my life,” McCracken said. “I’ve never drained sweat out of my helmet before a race.
“I think we executed it as well as we could have.”
With five medals but no golds to his name, McCracken feels a sense of frustration. His favourite motto, according to the Paralympics Australia website, is from Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
“I’m really happy for the past three Games I’ve been able to maintain a spot on the podium and get three silvers in that event,” McCracken said. “There is a little bit of frustration we can’t make that jump out to gold, but it is what it is.”
Away from the track, McCracken isn’t shy of the camera, having signed a deal with global company IMG Models
He is a regular at fashion shows, has appeared on the cover of magazines, and is breaking a stigma associated with models who have a disability.
McCracken, who barely has any room left on his body for more tattoos even if he wanted them, has worked with American clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger and many more.
“I just love it as a chance to branch out a little bit and do something that is a bit different,” McCracken said. “I got an opportunity to go over to New York and do a magazine cover over there. From there IMG signed me. I think those things are just really good to get your head space out of it, given these Games were very stressful.”
Koch chuckles when the burgeoning modelling career is brought up.
“Kurt and I clip him around the ears sometimes so he doesn’t get too big-headed,” Koch said. “I know Brad, his father, does that as well. He handles it so well. He’s never ever got a big head. He’s a great brand for anyone to adopt.
“What I love the most is that, while I’m glad he’s gone on to race in the Paralympics, to see him develop into just an incredible young Australian is great. From not saying boo, to somebody who then at 15 was speaking at primary schools about how to cope with disabilities . . . it’s just fantastic. He’s a great young bloke. I just love him.
“I just want him to keep going. I can’t believe he’s still only 24.
McCracken still has an 800m race on Friday, where he will be chasing that elusive gold medal. He admits his focus was the 100m.
“When I first came in at London , I was pretty raw and didn’t soak it in enough,” McCracken said. “I probably took it for granted a bit. Then Rio came around and I was a bit of a nervous wreck to be honest. Today was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a race, purely on the fact I hadn’t raced for so long.
“It’s about not taking it to heart as much. Be proud of the achievements and not beat yourself up over it.”
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