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Australian Paralympic swimmer David Rolfe dies

Man swimming Action shot of Australian swimmer David Rolfe during competition at the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games. Image credit: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission
Man swimming

Close up action shot of Australian swimmer David Rolfe doing backstroke during the 200m medley SM9 event, 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games, Day 2. Image credit: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

Last night, 2000 Australian summer Paralympic swimmer David Rolfe died as a result of complications related three separate heart surgeries he had in the past year.



While Rolfe medaled at the 2000 Games in swimming, in recent years he was a big advocate for para-canoe and the sport’s successful attempt to get it onto the Paralympic program for Rio.  Internationally, he represented Australia in the sport at the 2010 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championship.  He originally took up paddling in 1991, worked as a whitewater rafting guide for a few years, and formally took up flatwater canoeing in October 2009.  He was coached by Andrea Wood and based out of the Gold Coast Canoe Club.


As a swimmer,  Rolfe made his international debut for Australia at the International Debut International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Champs – Christchurch, New Zealand 1998


In an e-mail published to the HOPAU mailing list, the Australian Paralympic Committee’s Knowledge Service Manager Tony Naar said of Rolfe, “Rolfie won a relay bronze in swimming in 2000 and was a very popular and respected member of the swim team. As one of the older athletes (36 at the time of the Games), he played a big role in bringing the team together and mentoring the younger athletes.


“His real passion, however, was canoeing and kayaking, and he was a great advocate for Para-canoe in its push for Paralympic inclusion and in promoting it once it was included. He even appeared in a video for the International Canoe Federation to promote the sport he loved.


“He was a great ambassador for Paralympic sport.”


Born in Inverell, New South Wales on June 26, 1964, Rolfe later moved to Gold Coast, Queensland.  He is survived by his wife and adult child.  Outside of swimming and canoeing, he enjoyed cycling, rock climbing and sailing.



Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2569 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees. She has a PhD in Communications from the University of Canberra.

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