Just in the last week we have added a new design to our range of wheelchair covers which was through a collaboration, and inspired by, Susan Seipel and her relationship with the QLD RSPCA. Susan is a multi talented sportswoman who has been achieving at international level her whole life and we are so proud and excited to tell you all about her.
Susan Seipel is a Paralympic medallist and three-time world champion in the sport of Para-canoe. Born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenital (AMC), a disorder characterised by the fusion of joints and absent muscle formation in her legs. She had her 1st operation at only 4 weeks old, and was admitted to hospital 13 times before
the age of 15.
Susan learnt to swim at the age of four as a form of physiotherapy and excelled at the sport. Susan held six Queensland State records between the ages of 13 and 15, and three Australian National age records in freestyle and backstroke. She also raced against her able-bodied classmates and was selected onto her high school
swimming team. While swimming fueled her competitive spirit, Susan’s real sporting passion was riding horses and competing in dressage. After learning to ride at the age of seven, she set herself a goal of becoming a Paralympic champion. In 2006, she made her international debut at the Pacific Rim Para-Equestrian Dressage International Competition in Canada, where she won bronze.
Facing the financial strains of competing in Para-equestrian, Susan found herself looking for another sport to channel her energy into. In 2012, Susan attended a Come and Try Kayaking Day and was inspired to take up Para-canoe and keep her Paralympic dream alive!
In 2014, Susan attended her first Para-canoe National Championships and won three of her races, with personal best times. She was then selected to represent Australia at the 2014 World Championships in Moscow, Russia where she won her heat, and placed 6th in the final. Determined to improve, Susan challenged herself to paddle both boats used in Para-canoe; the outrigger canoe and the kayak. Her hard work paid off at the 2015 World Championships in Italy where she won Bronze in the 200m kayak race and Gold in the 200m outrigger canoe race. She successfully defended her outrigger canoe World Champion title the following year at the 2016 World Championships in Germany, and secured another Bronze medal in the kayak event for Australia.
Susan proudly represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where she won a Bronze medal in kayak and was the first Australian in history to win a medal in Para-canoe at the Paralympic Games.
Following her Paralympic debut and continued international success with another Gold medal in outrigger canoe at the 2017 World Championships, it was smooth ‘paddling’ towards selection for Tokyo until the global COVID-19 pandemic threatened to 'sink' years of hard work. Despite the unprecedented postponement, Susan persevered in the face of uncertainty and won a Silver medal in outrigger canoe at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Susan grew up loving animals and her pets included cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and horses. She is extremely passionate about animal welfare so in 2018 she was the first Paralympian to become an ambassador for RSPCA QLD. She got involved with the animal welfare charity back in 2011, as a volunteer adoption counsellor and cat/kitten foster carer. After the opening of the Animal Care Campus in Brisbane she volunteered at the Wildlife Hospital, there she saw first-hand the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes to save the lives of all creatures great and small.