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Embracing adversity on the road to Tokyo

A local world champion and debutant have both packed their bags for the 2020 Paralympic Games, as Ipswich looks to build on its five-medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics.

Susan Seipel, a triple World Champion and Paralympic Bronze Medallist in Para-canoe, and Taymon Kenton-Smith, competing in the men’s recurve open and mixed teams Para-archery, will join 179 Australian athletes when the games begin Tuesday.

Both Ms Seipel and Mr Kenton-Smith said they were grateful for the opportunity to compete.

“I am very thankful that the Tokyo Paralympic Games are going ahead after a challenging few years,” Ms Seipel said.

“I am very excited to have qualified two boats in my sport of Para-canoe, so I have two races to go for gold.

“I hope I can inspire others to overcome adversity and follow their dreams.”

“I’m training hard, shooting strong and staying focused,” Mr Kenton-Smith said.

“Come home with a medal or not I will hold this moment close for the rest of my life.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding encouraged the city to get behind its local athletes.

“The Paralympics celebrate perseverance and human spirit while raising awareness for all of the wonderful ways that people living with a disability contribute to our society,” Mayor Harding said.

“Susan and Taymon are not only flying the flag for their city and country, but for people living with disabilities across the world.

“I’m sure Ipswich residents will join me in wishing our Paralympians all the best in Tokyo.”

Community, Culture, Arts and Sport Committee Chair Councillor Andrew Fechner said he was looking forward to watching Ms Seipel and Mr Kenton-Smith compete on the world stage.

“Being selected to represent our country is a testament to the training they have done, the sacrifices they have made, and the dedication they have shown throughout their careers and in spite of the unprecedented obstacles posed by the pandemic,” Cr Fechner said.

Ms Seipel was the first Australian in history to win a bronze medal in Para-canoe at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. She was born in Ipswich and attended St Peter Claver College, Riverview.

Mr Kenton-Smith, a proud resident of Springfield Lakes, will join Imalia Oktrininda for the mixed team’s event after competing in the men’s recurve open Para-archery.

The Australian Paralympic squad is the largest team ever sent to a games overseas, including 84 debutants and Paralympians on their seventh innings.

There are 18 sports at Tokyo and two new sports added, Para-taekwondo and Para-badminton.

Paralympics Australia is giving fans an opportunity to support the team by buying a green and gold virtual seat at: https://donate.paralympic.org.au/. Each seat will support the next generation of Para-athletes through Paralympics Australia’s community and sports programs.

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