Jaryd Clifford is a para-athlete and Paralympian who was awarded a Scholarship within the 2019 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring program, and was paired with Lauren Burns OAM as his Mentor.
Jaryd was born in Melbourne in 1999, and achieved success in Athletics against able-bodied athletes from a young age. He now competes in T12/ T13 classifications after his eyesight deteriorated due to juvenile macular degeneration during primary school.
In 2014, Jaryd finished 4th in the 3000m at the Australian All Schools Championships, and four years later he became the first para-athlete to qualify for the World Athletics (able-bodied) World Junior Championships, and was the first para-athlete to win an Australian junior title in an able-bodied race.
Jaryd challenged the world’s best at the 2015 IPC Athletics Championships, before qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a national record in the T12 1500m. He made the final in Rio then took bronze in the 1500m at the 2017 World Championships. Consistent success earned him the title of Marg Angel Junior Sportsperson of the Year at the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards in 2017.
Soon, more records tumbled. In 2018, he broke the 1500m T12 world record, then set a new record in the T13 classification while winning gold at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships, where he also won the 5000m with guides Tim Logan and Philo Saunders. Clifford became the first para-athlete to qualify for the IAAF (able-bodied) World Juniors and the first Australian para-athlete to win an Australian junior title in an able-bodied race. In his first marathon, Jaryd set a new world record of 2:19:08. In 2018,
The Diamond Valley Athletic Club member then won two silver medals and a bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Clifford explains his experience as a Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship Holder: “It’s an honour to read the names of those who have come before me and remember how far they have come since their youth.”
“I am honoured to receive the SAHOF Scholarship for it is a recognition of my potential to one day etch my own name alongside the sporting heroes of our nation. It is also an honour to read the names of those who have come before me and remember how far they have come since their own youth. To then be granted one-on-one access with one of those heroes, the great Lauren Burns, is an opportunity that will hopefully see me grown as an athlete but also as a person in life.”
One year later he says, “In 2019, I became a world champion. In 2020, my entire life’s work feels frustratingly wasted. My handling of the pressure and euphoria of last year and then the heartbreak of this year was guided by my experiences as a SAHOF scholarship holder. My mentor Lauren Burns has played an instrumental role over the last 18 months of my career. She is someone I admire greatly, and her wisdom will remain with me for the rest of my career. Most importantly, we remain in contact and she is very much a part of my team on the road to Tokyo.”
“Jaryd is a talented and passionate athlete and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with him. I am looking forward to assisting him in any way I can towards his journey to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.” Said Clifford’s Mentor, Lauren Burns
Paralympics Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Lynne Anderson speaks about Jaryd’s opportunity: “Jaryd Clifford is one Para-athlete who has had a meteoric rise since his Paralympic debut in Rio 2016. He’s excelled on the track, winning bronze at the 2017 Para-athletics World Championships, while also creating a name for himself as a budding writer. He’s on the path to winning gold, and with two years to go until the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, we’re incredibly excited to see him strive to reach all of his personal goals with the mentorship of Australian taekwondo Olympic champion Lauren Burns.
“We’d like to congratulate Jaryd on winning this year’s scholarship, and we’d also like to thank SAHOF for recognising his talent and his contribution to the Paralympic movement in Australia.”
Athletics Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Darren Gocher said; “It is fantastic that Jaryd has been selected for the Scholarship. He is an incredible athlete that has had an amazing season. Athletics Australia is beyond proud of Jaryd’s hard work and dedication, we are looking forward to seeing what Jaryd can achieve in the future.”
Honours & Achievements
- 2016: Rio Paralympic Games – Paralympian
- 2018: IAAF Able-Bodied World Juniors – First para-athlete to qualify
- 2018: Vision Impaired 1500m World Record (3:45.18)
- 2019: World Para Athletics Championships – Double World Champion (1500m & 5000m)
- 2019: Fastest guided 5000m in history (14:05.40)
- 2020: Tokyo Paralympic Games – Bronze 1500m (T13)
- 2020: Tokyo Paralympic Games – Silver 5000m (T13)
- 2020: Tokyo Paralympic Games – Silver Marathon (T12) with guides Vincent Donnadieu & Tim Logan