Vander-Kuyp was given up by his mother as a baby, and adopted at five weeks of age by a white family, who later also adopted a daughter. His adoptive mother is also a birth mother who gave up a baby boy for adoption before her own marriage.
He was raised in a mainly white area and suffered from racism as a child. He had many problems, now resolved, with his identity as an Aboriginal when he was a child, and at one point he tried to scratch his brown skin away to make himself white.
His athletic ability made itself apparent early. He specializes in the 110m hurdles and has competed in three Commonwealth Games, three World Championships, and raced in the finals of the event at the 1996 Olympics. He became the first Aboriginal to represent Australia in an international track and field competition when he went to the Auckland Commonwealth Games. He has won eight Australian championships and holds the national record of 13.29 seconds. He was expected to win a medal in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but was eliminated in the semi-finals with a time of 13.63 seconds.
He was named Cleo magazine's bachelor of the year in 1998.
He is in telephone contact with his birth mother, who traced him, and plans to meet her.
He also works with programs to promote sports among Aboriginal children.
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