Quick Facts

Disability
Vision Impairment – Cataracts and amblyopia
Sport
Swimming
How acquired
Congenital
Date of Birth
August 17, 2001
Home
Kenmore, QLD
Occupation
Student
Started Competing
2012
First Competed for Australia
2016
Games Experience

Rio 2016

Heroes

Her mother

Career Highlights

Winning three gold medals at the 2015 Pacific School Games

Greatest Moment

Training and playing alongside the Australian men’s and women’s goalball teams

Bio

South African-born Katja Dedekind exceeded her own expectations when she won a bronze medal on debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Having fallen in love with swimming early on, Katja turned her attention to goalball after attending a ‘Come and Try’ day in 2012. She was crowned Best Defensive Junior Player at the Australian Goalball Championships in Melbourne later that year, and in 2014 she received a $250 grant to continue chasing on-court success.

Though training and playing alongside the Australian men’s and women’s goalball teams still ranks among her greatest sporting moments to date, Katja began making waves in the pool in 2015. She was named Swimmer of the Meet for swimmers with disabilities at the Queensland Sprint Championships, and at the Pacific School Games in Adelaide, she collected three gold and five silver medals.

Under the guidance of coach David Heyden, a 14-year-old Katja came out swinging at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships. She placed third in the 200m freestyle, fifth in the 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly, and joined forces with Paralympic medallists Maddison Elliott, Ashleigh McConnell and Taylor Corry to take gold in the 4x50m mixed freestyle relay.

Making her Paralympic debut in Rio, the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association’s 2016 Junior Athlete of the Year stunned her competitors in the S13 100m backstroke, touching the wall in 1:12.25, just seconds behind Anna Stetsenko from the Ukraine and Abby Kane from Great Britain.

Gaining crucial experience on the world’s biggest stage, she also raced well enough to contest the 400m freestyle final, finishing in seventh place.

In her spare time Katja enjoys reading, listening to music, watching movies and writing poetry. In 2015, she received a Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Award for her poem ‘The Open Door’.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 100m backstroke Classification: S13
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 100m freestyle Classification: S13
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 400m freestyle Classification: S13
  • Sport: Swimming Disciplines: 50m freestyle Classification: S13