It’s not long now until the Rio Olympics and I don’t know about you guys, but I am getting so excited. This week I wanted to feature one of our Paralympians and pay credit where it’s due; to those that are working, training, fundraising or on their journey to represent Australia. Lunch with Liz caught up with Australian Para-canoeist Susan Seipel at Mlk Café and Espresso Bar in Broadbeach. Para-Canoeing is debuting at the Rio Paralympics this year, on Channel 7 & 7Mate from the 7th – 18th September.
WHERE WE WENT: Mlk Espresso Bar, Broadbeach
WHAT WE ATE: Spinach Quinoa Veggie Burger – house made quinoa and spinach patty with lettuce, smashed avocado and feta and red onion wings in seeded brioche bun. Lamb Rainbow Salad – mixed lettuce, cucumber, pring onion, red cabbage, dukkah lamb and sprouts on lime and garlic herb dressing.
WHAT WE SIPPED: Aqua Panna
Tell me the details of your impairment?
“I was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex, a rare disorder characterised by fusion of joints and absent muscle formation in my legs, I think it’s 11% of those with Arthrogryposis are only affected in the legs. It’s very rare.”
At what age did you discover you were so athletic?
“It was actually my mum who encouraged me into sport and it was for physiotherapy for my condition. I started swimming when I was four years old and just absolutely loved it. I found I have so much more movement in the water than I do on land. My upper body is strong, for a lot of my life I’ve had to adapt to moving with my arms instead of my legs.”
From swimming you moved into equestrian, and then canoeing? What brought on these transitions?
“I loved competing in swimming while at school, even in primary school we had our own pool and carnivals. I would train 3 times a week and I even went to inter-school competitions, competing against abled bodied students! I had three national age records for my swimming. I liked to compete against abled bodies, so I think that’s what pushed me further. Then I started equestrian because I lived near a riding for the disabled center. To combine my love of sports with my love of animals made me really happy. So I went on to compete in dressage internationally in para-equestrian . Unfortunately it was very expensive and I was relying on my parents to fund my dreams of riding. I was spending all my money on horses and didn’t have any money to move out of home or support myself. So reality hit. I was lucky while it lasted, a lot of very generous horse owners gave me horses to ride, but it just ended up still being too expensive for myself and my family, so I had to break away and try something different. Canoeing happened very randomly. I found out about a come and try canoeing day being help by olympian Amanda Rankin, she told me about the para canoeing community and connected me with my coach Andrea King and then it was love at first stroke. Coming from equestrian I had good balance, and for a lot of beginners they have trouble staying upright in the boat, but I never had any troubles with this. There’s also a lot of technique in kayak which I was very used to, from training in dressage. Then from racing in swimming there was that connection to racing on water.”
What has been the highlight of your athletic career?
“Representing Australia overseas, first in equestrian (in Canada) and then recently in canoeing. I’ve been to Russia and then Italy for the world championships and that was definitely a highlight as I won a bronze medal in K1 (kayak) and a gold medal in V1 (outrigging canoe). I’d worked really hard and was so proud to bring home that result to Australia.”
How’s your preparation going for Rio?
“We have a great team here and great facilities on the Gold Coast and a lot of support from the AIS and Australian Canoeing, so it’s going really well. It’s going to be fascinating to go in and see what the rest of the world is doing and show the rest of the world what we can do!”
What’s a typical training session for you?
“We train 6 days a week, on the water from dark, around 6am, most mornings. Then we have some recovery time during the middle of the day and then we have an afternoon session, usually we do gym, or another water session. In between that we have physio and pilates and stretching etc. We train like a hardcore athlete!”
How much attention do you give to diet and health?
“It’s an important aspect to get the best out of your performance you’ve got to have a good diet and get the right amount of nutrients and it’s a little tricker for me because I’m a vegetarian. I have a sports dietitian that I work with and I try my best to stick to her plan. I do have my weaknesses with chocolate.”
What do you get up to in your downtime?
“I don’t have that much! But I go home to Brisbane catch up with family, friends and my pets! I also do some volunteering for the RSPCA.”
Follow Susan’s journey at – https://www.facebook.com/Supporters-of-Susan-Seipel-290988187976/?pnref=story