Paige Leonhardt was awarded a Tier 3 Scholarship within the 2022 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program.
Paige was born in Penrith NSW and was in a terrible car accident at just five years old. Her injuries from the accident were severe, requiring eighteen years of recovery with spinal taps, MRIs, and operations to remove fluid from her brain. Suffering from haemorrhages behind the eyes, Paige now suffers from drusen, yellow deposits under the retinas.
Paige continues to suffer hemiplegia on her right side as well as intracranial hypertension, epilepsy, and autism.
Paige started swimming when she was 12 years old (2012) when she was undergoing therapy. She started competing through school. In 2013 she was formally classified as an S14 and her swimming career took off.
A breaststroke specialist, Paige competed at the 2014 Australian Championships at the age of 13. Competing in the open multi-class 50m breaststroke she took home the bronze medal. At the Australian Age Championships that followed, she took gold in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
At the 2015 Australian Open Championships she won bronze in the multi-class 50m breaststroke as well as making the final of the 100m breaststroke. At the 2015 Australian Age Championships she won silver in the 50m breaststroke as well as bronze in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle,
Paige made her Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games, where she qualified for the final in the 100m butterfly, finishing in sixth place and the 100m breaststroke where she also finished sixth. Paige also competed in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley but did not progress to the finals.
Paige really progressed and excelled in 2018 when she took home a silver at the Commonwealth Games and stormed home with two golds, one silver and a bronze at the Para Pan Pacs Championships.
As with many athletes, the 2019/2020 season was a slow one given the restrictions of Covid-19.
In 2020, Paige officially qualified for her second Paralympic Games and made her mark by bringing home a silver medal in the S14 100m butterfly.
It is the dream of the young Brisbane swimmer to go to the Paris 2024 Paralympics and win gold. She would also like to work with animals in some capacity in the future.
“It means never giving up. Never letting the bullies get to me. That getting up at 4:30am to train six days a week is worth it. That the best rewards in life are the ones you work for the hardest and I’m so honoured to be recognised by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.” – Paige Leonhardt on being selected as a 2022 Tier 3 Scholarship Holder.
- 2018: Para Pan Pacs Championships – silver, 100m breaststroke
- 2018: Para Pan Pacs Championships – gold, 4x400m Medley Relay
- 2018: Para Pan Pacs Championships – bronze, 100m butterfly
- 2018: Para Pan Pacs Championships – gold, 4x100m freestyle relay
- 2018: Commonwealth Games – silver, 100m breaststroke
- 2020 (2021): Tokyo Paralympic Games – silver, 100m butterfly
Bio credit to Paralympics Australia.