I have represented Australia in the sport of Para-canoe at two Paralympic Games and achieved a bronze medal in Rio 2016 and a silver medal in Tokyo 2020. My current goal is to compete at the next Paralympic Games in Paris 2024 (August 28th to September 8th).
Each Paralympic experience has been unique and begins with the process of qualifying for team selection. The sport of Para-canoe made its debut at Rio 2016, so the lead-up to those games was very exciting with a lot of interest as we showcased our amazing new sport to the world. Tokyo was a completely different experience and felt like smooth sailing until the Covid pandemic.
It became a very stressful journey with many challenges to overcome due to the yearlong postponement, movement restrictions, and quarantine. Thankfully, the Tokyo games were still successful and brought much-needed joy and hope during such a difficult time.
Each Paralympic sport is only allowed a limited number of athletes which are distributed across geographical regions with the aim of creating an event inclusive of all countries in the world. Every sport has a different process but in Para-canoe the first qualifying event will be this year at the World Championships in Germany (23rd-27th August) with the top 6 countries in each race earning a Paralympic spot.
The remaining spots will be decided at the 2024 World Championships in Hungary (10th-12th May) and spots are also allocated to the host country (France).
Representing your country in any sport is a huge achievement and great honour. I have incredible respect for my fellow para-athletes who choose to pursue their passion for sport and test their personal limitations to be the best they can be. My road to Paris is just starting as I prepare to compete in Germany for a Paralympic spot and follow my dream of completing my Paralympic medal collection!
Follow my Road to Paris 2024 on Facebook or Instagram @susanseipel.paralympian
About the Author:
Susan Seipel is a diverse para-athlete with a background in swimming, and equestrian, and is a triple World Champion in the sport of Para-canoe.
She won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and was the first Australian in history to win a medal in Para-canoe at the Paralympic level. At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, Susan won a silver medal in the inaugural women’s canoe event. She is currently training for Paris 2024.
Outside of sports, Susan is a proud ambassador for RSPCA Queensland and is passionate about animal welfare. She is also studying Psychology at university.