Quick Facts

Disability
Vision Impairment – Rod monochromatism
Sport
Goalball
How acquired
Congenital
Date of Birth
November 6, 1986
Home
Redfern, NSW, ACT
Occupation
Operations Business Analyst at Allianz
Started Competing
2002
First Competed for Australia
2011
Games Experience

London 2012, Rio 2016

Heroes

Jenny Blow

Career Highlights

Representing Australia at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London

Bio

Michelle Rzepecki was born with rod monochromatism, meaning she can only see in black and white.

Introduced to goalball as a teenager, she attracted the attention of former Australian head coach Georgie Kenaghan while representing New South Wales at the Australian National Goalball Championships.

Guided by Georgie, Michelle began training with the Australian women’s development squad in 2011 with the idea of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

To her surprise, Michelle made her international debut that year at the African-Oceania regional Paralympic qualifying competition. The Aussie Belles defeated New Zealand and earned automatic selection for London 2012, becoming the first Australian goalball team to qualify for a Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000.

They lost all four preliminary matches at the Games, placing fifth behind Canada, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

Originally the Belles weren’t selected to compete at Rio 2016, only receiving the call-up when Russia was banned from the Games due to widespread doping. There they achieved one better than London, tying 2-2 in their match against the Ukraine. Unfortunately, the point differential saw the Australian team again place fifth behind Turkey, China, Canada and the Ukraine.

While Michelle thrives on competition, what she loves most about goalball is that it creates a community for vision impaired people. She says that one of her greatest achievements to date is introducing the sport to a group of vision impaired students in Bolivia.

The Redfern local is most inspired by her grandfather, whom she admires for migrating from Germany to Australia and running a successful café, but hilariously recalls once visiting her ancestral home on student exchange and telling a class in German she wanted to be a terrorist – she meant tourism!

Michelle loves being outdoors and enjoys hiking and camping, and in 10 years’ time she hopes to be in Antarctica working with penguins.

Sports & Disciplines

  • Sport: Goalball Classification: B3