Goondiwindi will host Order of Australia medal recipient Lakeisha Patterson as its Australia Day Ambassador for 2019.

Lakeisha competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in April 2016. She won Australia’s first gold medal of the Games, winning the 400m freestyle S8 on opening night in a new World, Paralympic and Oceania record. She also won gold, broke the world record in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and collected three silver and one bronze medal.

Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor Graeme Scheu said it was a great honour for the region to welcome such an accomplished young Australian as its ambassador. “Lakeisha is a wonderful role model and asset to our state,” Cr Scheu said. “Her achievements are impressive and inspirational and I’m very grateful that she’ll be sharing her experiences and pride in being Australian with us.”

Ms Patterson will deliver a keynote address at the ceremony in Goondiwindi before presenting the Australia Day Awards. She will be assisted by 2018 Citizens of the Year Peter and Gloria Corey with Mayor Graeme Scheu. “The Australia Day Ambassador program is an opportunity for all Australians, and particularly those in regional areas like our own, to meet and gain inspiration from Australian achievers from all walks of life,” said Cr Scheu.

Ms Patterson started swimming at the age of five as part of her rehabilitation to overcome muscle stiffness from Cerebral Palsy left Hemiplegia. After falling in love with water and discovering para-swimming, Lakeisha started competing nationally at aged 13. 2018 saw Lakeisha win two gold medals at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the 50m freestyle S8 and swimming up a classification in the S9 100m freestyle, where she also broke an unofficial world record for her class.

Australia Day celebrations will begin in Goondiwindi with breakfast in the town park at 6.30am before presentations commence at 9.15am. Cr Scheu encouraged residents to come down to meet Lakeisha on the day and to help celebrate the achievements of nominees within our community.