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My Journey - Susan Seipel


I was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a rare disorder characterised by fusion of joints and absent muscle formation in my legs. I had my first operation at 4 weeks old and was admitted to the children's hospital 13 times before my 15th birthday. At age 4, I was taught to swim and developed a passion for the sport. I held six Queensland State Games Records and three Australian National Records.


At age 7, I started having horse riding lessons for physiotherapy at The McIntyre Pony Riding for the Disabled Centre. In 2006 I made my debut for Australia at the Pacific Rim Para-Equestrian Dressage International in Canada. I rode a horse named Conclusive Talent, and with only a few days practice together we won a bronze medal.


I got involved in the sport of Para-Canoe in 2012 after attending a come and try day. I joined the Brisbane Canoeing Club to learn more about paddling and started regular training. I was selected onto the Australian Para-Canoe Team in 2014 and moved to the AIS European Training Centre in Italy to train ahead of the ICF World Sprint Championships in Russia. Also in 2014 I competed at IVF Outrigger Canoe World Championships in Brazil. I won a silver medal in my individual V1 race and with the Australian Team won 2 gold medals in the OC6 team events in world record time. At the 2015 ICF World Championships in Italy, I won a K1 Bronze medal and qualified a quota place for Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. In the V1 final I won a Gold medal and my maiden World Title with a Personal Best and world record time. I successfully defended my V1 World Champion title at the 2016 World Championships in Germany and won Bronze in the K1 event. Proudly representing Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics Games I won a Bronze medal in my event and was the first Australian in history to win a medal in Para-canoe at the Paralympic Games. I hope by sharing my story I can inspire others to overcome adversity and follow their dreams.