Not many people  accidentally qualify for a world championship, but that’s exactly what Sunshine Coast Paralympian Marayke Jonkers did.

In August Marayke will compete in both the International Paralympic Swimming Championships in Holland, and two weeks later, the International Triathlon Championships in Hungary.

Marayke, who works as STEPS Graduate Employment Consultant, has represented Australia in three Paralympic Games, winning silver and two bronze in swimming events. As part of her preparation for the upcoming international swimming titles in Holland, Marayke competed in several triathlons to introduce some variety into her training.

After the Queensland State Triathlon championships in Redcliffe, it came to Marayke’s attention that her time qualified her for the world triathlon championships. An enquiry to Triathlon Australia confirmed her finding, and now Marayke is set to become Australia’s first female paratriathlete to represent Australia. “My competing in the triathlon is interesting because it’s all about accepting disability, and adapting and making things work,” said Marayke, who also has her sights on competing in a similar event in future paralympics.

“An able bodied triathlete just has a bike, but I have this huge three-wheeled hand cycle which weighs 15 kg (for the bike leg of the race), and this other huge racing chair.” As part of the triathlon Marayke said she is looking forward to swimming in the River Danube during the Hungarian Autumn, and then cycling through the rich traditional cityscape of Budapest.

At the International Swimming Championships held during August, Marayke will be representing Australia in three races, after qualifying in the Australian titles held during March. She said she’s expecting to receive plenty of encouragement. “I have so many relatives in Holland I couldn’t even count them,” she said. “Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, many seem to be finding out about my competing in Eindhoven … my Mum’s cousin lives about 20 minutes down the road from the venue. So I’m expecting plenty of family to watch my races, and I’ve got a great place to stay.”


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