Rachael Watson wrote herself a page in the history books in 2016, when – at her first Paralympic Games – she won a gold medal and set a new Paralympic record in the women’s 50m freestyle S4.

Doubling as Rachael’s international debut, it marked an incredible rise to the top for the young Queenslander, who only two years earlier had been struck down by Guillain-Barré syndrome – in essence, Rachael’s immune system mistakenly attacked her peripheral nervous system, paralysing her.

Prior to this, Rachael had been on track to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games as an S8 competitor – as a triplet born four months prematurely, she had spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, with Para-swimming forming part of her physiotherapy.

Reclassified as an S4 athlete in 2015, Rachael first caught the attention of the Australian Para-swimming team’s coaching staff at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide, SA, where she …

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Date of birth
30 January 1992
Sport
Para-swimming
Past Paralympic Games

Rio 2016

Impairment
Physical Impairment – Guillain-Barré syndrome, spastic diplegia cerebral palsy
How acquired
Unknown, premature birth
Residence
Manly, QLD
Occupation
Student
Started competing
2011
First competed for Australia
2016
Sport career highlights

Winning a gold medal in the women’s 50m freestyle S4 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Greatest sporting moments

Being named to the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team

Heroes/role models

Dawn Fraser

Favourite quote
Dream, believe, achieve

Disciplines

  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 50m breaststroke Classification: SB3
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 50m freestyle Classification: S4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 150m individual medley Classification: SM4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 4x50m freestyle Classification: S4
  • Sport: Para-swimming Discipline: 4x50m medley Classification: S4

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