18 August, 2021
‘Lucky’ Lakeisha ready to tackle Tokyo Paralympics
IN HER preparations for the Tokyo Paralympics later this month, and despite the Covid-induced limitations, Caboolture-based swimmer Lakeisha Patterson is driven by her determination to improve on her previous medal tally.
The 22-year-old is competing at the Paralympics for the second time, having won two gold medals, three silver and one bronze at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Having lived in the Victoria-New South Wales border town of Wodonga before moving to Moreton Bay at the age of three, and later graduating from St Columban’s College (Caboolture), Lakeisha will swim in the 400m freestyle S9 on August 25 — the first day of competition at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Lakeisha may also take part in the 4x100m freestyle relay women’s event on August 29.
Despite many setbacks, Lakeisha was determined not to allow adversity to get in her way.
Known as ‘Lucky’, Lakeisha was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a stroke at birth, and also battles epilepsy and micrographia.
Lakeisha set a world record time of 4:40:33 when she won gold in the women’s 400m freestyle S8 in her first Paralympic Games, and she finished equal with Ellie Cole as the most prolific Australian medal winner at the 2016 Paralympics.
Lakeisha also won medals at other competitions including the 2015 and 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, and the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Competing at numerous international competitions, facing obstacles, and overcoming adversity, have given me a lot of experience and confidence heading into Tokyo to compete at my best,” Lakeisha said.
“As my journey continues, I am still learning new things every day and continually trying to improve, which makes the process more exciting and enjoyable.”
Lakeisha admitted to feeling nervous, but she felt that this was a sign of how invested and ready she was.
“It is incredibly exciting to compete at a Paralympic Games, especially taking part in a historic Games in Tokyo that are being navigated during a pandemic,” she said.
“I have been working tirelessly the last five years for this opportunity, and I am incredibly thrilled and honoured to be able to represent the green and gold once again at the pinnacle of the sport.
“It’s such a privilege to represent our wonderful country, and I can’t wait to put the hard work into action and really soak up and enjoy the experience.
Lakeisha referred to “navigating unprecedented times” due to the Covid pandemic, saying that the preparation for the upcoming Paralympics was unlike anything that she and other athletes had experienced before.
“It has impacted everyone across the world in various ways, so I think the Games will be a real testament to everyone’s resilience, determination and adaptability to persevere under tough circumstances to be able to compete,” Lakeisha said.
“It has been difficult navigating training around lockdowns and restrictions, but with my goal in sight and an incredible team and family behind me, I have just had to get creative and adapt to the situations that arise.
“Open water sessions, dryland training, swimming on a tethered rope, were all ways of getting training in during the toughest part of Covid last year.
“Fortunately, now training is full steam ahead in the lead-up to the Games, and I feel incredibly lucky that the Games are still going ahead and we can showcase our efforts to the world and hopefully spark some hope and joy to others watching on.”