Katarina Roxon takes long road to Paralympic peak

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 17, 2021

Newfoundland & Labrador Para swimmer won first medal at her third Games

Roxon action

Perseverance paid off for Katarina Roxon back in 2016 when she won her first Paralympic Games medal, a gold no less, in the women’s SB8 100-m breaststroke. That was a feat that at one point seemed a distant possibility for the now 28-year-old from Kippens, N.L.

Roxon was only 14 years old when she made her Games debut in Beijing in 2008, the youngest member of the entire Canadian Paralympic Team. It’s not easy for any athlete to have those expectations at such a young age.

‘’It was definitely hard,’’ said Roxon, born with her left arm missing below her elbow. ‘’It wasn’t an easy task to keep the motivation at times. You get that spark back usually when you assemble with the Canadian team but it’s maintaining that spark that is the tough one.

‘’But I’ve always been a competitive person and I’ve always loved a challenge. I knew in Beijing I was experiencing everything and it was fun, then in London (2012) I put a little bit more pressure on myself to perform and it just didn’t turn out well.’’

‘’Those experiences helped me get to the gold medal in Rio. I wouldn’t have appreciated the gold medal as much as I do if I hadn’t gone through those ups and downs, those injuries, and those setbacks.’’

Born and raised in Newfoundland, Roxon and her sister Miranda (now a swimming coach) were both immersed in the world of swimming at a young age. In fact, Roxon still trains on the ‘’The Rock’’ under the guidance of her father Leonard Roxon. 

‘’My dad and I have personalities that are very much alike,’’ she said. ‘’Sometimes we butt heads but at the end of the day everything is resolved. He’s my dad so I can talk to him about literally anything. He’s a great motivator for me and my teammates back home and he keeps tabs on everybody. He truly cares.”

Roxon is the only athlete at the Tokyo Games from Newfoundland and Labrador. She’ll be closely followed in her home province where she is already an established star. 

In 2016, Highway Route 490, which leads from the Trans-Canada Highway towards Roxon’s hometown, was renamed Katarina Roxon Way. In 2018 she was appointed to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador. She’s currently a spokesperson for the #HealthyMeBetterMe campaign by Sports Newfoundland and Labrador.

‘’It’s an amazing community and an amazing province,’’ she said. ‘’Ever since I first started swimming my community has always been very supportive of me. Then it became the region, then the province. 

‘’People just come up to me very randomly to say how proud they are of me.’’

For more stories about Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympians, visit Paralympic.ca/powerofsport

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields