The Summer Paralympics in Tokyo should be on right now, August 23rd- September 6th. The Games were, of course, postponed for the first time in history because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In early March this year, the WHO called Covid-19 a pandemic, that same week I was competing at the Paracanoe selection trials. Having satisfied all the selection criteria by winning both my kayak and outrigger canoe races, I was excitedly awaiting the official announcement of my selection onto the Australian Paralympic Team.
But the announcement never came, and a week later my joy turned to feelings of anxiety and sadness when training facilities were closed due to the nationwide lockdown.
Paddle Australia did a great job quickly organising for athletes to take home gym equipment for ‘stay at home’ training sessions. Even with all the uncertainty, I felt very motivated to train and was lucky to be doing an outdoor solo sport that wasn’t banned. Keeping up a training routine was also good for my mental wellbeing during those difficult times.
Fast forward to today, I am actually relieved that I am not trying to compete during a pandemic that has tragically taken so many lives and continues to spread uncontrolled. While I hope that the games can proceed next year even in a modified format, the health and safety of everyone involved is paramount.
I believe the Paralympics is more than an elite sporting event; it is a demonstration of resilience in the face of adversity. The official motto of the Tokyo Paralympics is ‘United by Emotion’, emphasising the power of sport to bring people from diverse backgrounds together, allowing them to connect and celebrate in a way that reaches beyond their differences. Sentiments that the world really needs right now and fitting as 2020 so far has definitely been an emotional roller coaster.
About the author:
Susan Seipel is a diverse para-athlete with a background in swimming, equestrian, and is a triple World Champion in the sport of Paracanoe.
She won a Bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games and was the first Australian in history to win a medal in Paracanoe at Paralympic level. Currently, she is training towards the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Outside of sport, Susan is a proud ambassador for the RSPCA Queensland and is passionate about animal welfare, as well as disability issues.