Written by: Paralympics Australia
USC Spartan teammates Keira Stephens and Katja Dedekind have claimed another two medals for the Australian Paralympic Swim team, taking home bronze medals on Thursday night at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.
Willing herself to the wall and giving it everything she had, 18-year-old Stephens on her Paralympic debut claimed her bronze in her pet event – the Women’s 100m Breaststroke (SB9). In a personal best time of 1:17.59 saw her not only secure a spot on the dais, but she also broke the Australian record (1:17.93) which has been held by Madeleine Scott since Rio 2016.
Speaking after the race, Stephens said she was thrilled to add to Australia’s success and commended the Aussies’ spirit.
“I’m ecstatic, that’s a huge personal best for me and seeing that time on the board makes everything so worthwhile and I hope I made everyone proud at home,” she said.
“The team vibe is so good, and everyone is pumping each other up. Yesterday was amazing and I really wanted to add to that medal collection so I’m so happy that I did.”
Stephens’ fellow USC Spartan teammate Katja Dedekind now boasts back-to-back Paralympic bronze medals in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S13 after touching for third. In a stacked field of athletes – in which the USA’s gold medal winner broke the world record – Dedekind pulled out her second personal best time of the day (1:06.49) to also break her own Australian record she set at the Australian Swimming Trials in June.
As a vision impaired athlete, Dedekind remarkably found out her result via Channel 7’s poolside commentator Katrina Webb and broke down in tears when she heard her time had secured her another international bronze medal.
After standing on the dais and collecting her Paralympic medal, Dedekind reflected on this unbelievable moment and said it rekindled memories from 2016.
“It brought back memories of Rio from my post swim interview, and I remember as a 15-year-old losing it on camera. I don’t’ think they got any grabs out of me but now doing it again five years later is just incredible. I shed some more tears on the podium, and it was just amazing,” Dedekind said.
“I’m just happy I’ve been able to keep moving with the field, everyone is getting faster and so it’s just amazing to keep going and be standing here again.”
In more racing news from the evening, dual Paralympian Tim Disken had a hit-out in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke (SB8)
final and placed seventh in a time of 1:11.81 – very close to personal best.
Australia’s medal tally for the swim team now comprises 10 medals including four golds, one silver and five bronze.