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 thirteen times before my 15th birthday.
At the age of four I was taught to swim as physiotherapy and developed a fondness for the sport. I represented my school and raced alongside my able-bodied classmates. I was classified as a para-swimmer and between 1999 and 2001 I held six Queensland State Games Records and three Australian National Age Records in freestyle and backstroke.
When I was seven years old, I started having horse riding lessons for physiotherapy at The McIntyre Pony Riding for the Disabled Centre. There I fell in love with the horses and discovered a passion for the equestrian sport of dressage.
I represented my state for the first time at the Riding for the Disabled National Dressage Championships in 1998 and placed 1st in my warm-up test against international riders. Since then I competed thirteen times for consecutive years at national level, and have been the Australian National Champion three times riding different horses;”Bobby” in 1999, “Menora Wildfire” in 2006, and “Mellizo” in 2008.
In 2006 I made my international debut representing Australia at the Pacific Rim Para-Equestrian Dressage International Competition, held at Milner Downs Equestrian Centre in Langley, Canada. I rode a borrowed horse named “Conclusive Talent,” and with only a few days practice together we won a bronze medal.
My horse “Larundel Gelata” and I were selected to compete at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, in Kentucky, USA. But due to financial difficulties I was unable to compete at the event. I was devastated! Shortly afterwards I decided to take a break from equestrian competition.
I got involved in the sport of Para-Canoe in 2012, after attending a come and try kayaking day with Olympian, Amanda Rankin. I joined the Brisbane Canoeing Club to learn more about paddling and started regular training. In 2014 I experienced my first regatta at the Queensland State Canoe Sprint Championships, which reignited my competitive spirit.
I went on to compete at the 2014 Australian Canoe Sprint Championships and won three of my K1 (single kayak) races with Personal Best times and placed 2nd in all three V1 (single outrigger canoe) races. I was selected onto the 2014 Australian Para-Canoe Sprint Team for the K1 boat and moved to the AIS European Training Centre in Italy to train ahead of the World Championships.
At the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Moscow, Russia, I won my heat and went directly into the final were I came 6th in the world with a Personal Best time. A week later I competed at the IVF 2014 Outrigger Canoe World Championships in Rio De Janerio, Brazil. There I won a silver medal in my individual V1 race and with the Australian Team won two gold medals in the OC6 (six person outrigger canoe) team events. As a team we also smashed the previous held records for World Best time in both races.
In 2015 I won both V1 and K1 National Titles and was selected onto the Australian Para-Canoe Team for both boats. At the 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Milan, Italy, I progressed straight into the K1 final after placing 2nd in my heat. In the final I won a Bronze medal and qualified the first 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 Best time.
At the 2016 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Dusberg, Germany, I added another Bronze medal for K1 to my medal haul and successfully defended my world champion title for V1. I won my 3rd Gold medal for V1 at the 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic.
I proudly represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games in Rio De Janerio, Brazil. I won a Bronze medal in my event the 200m K1 sprint, 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.”