Marayke Caroline Jonkers was born on 13 September 1981 in Hobart. Her parents are of Dutch descent and migrated to Australia before she was born.
She moved to Queensland as a baby. She currently (2023) lives in the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. She became a paraplegic due to a car accident at the age of eight months. She studied Communications and Social Science at the University of the Sunshine Coast where she received two bachelor’s degrees.
This what Marayke herself has to say about her name:
Marijke is a traditional Dutch name. Both sides of my family are Dutch so I really love that my family honoured our heritage in my name. At the same time it’s unique – mum changed the spelling to sound phonically like Ma – ray – ka so people in Australia wouldn’t call me mar – ridge – key – which means I get to have my own domain name and email addresses and can use my name on social media as there are no other Marayke Jonkers out there. Lots of people mispronounce my name and that’s ok. It is strange going to Holland and hearing people say Marayke in supermarkets etc – then realising they’re not talking to me.
She has achieved several notable accomplishments as a para-swimmer:
- 2000 Summer Paralympics: competed in the 100m breaststroke and 100m backstroke.
- 2002 Commonwealth Games: competed in the 50m freestyle, 100m breaststroke, and 100m backstroke.
- 2004 Summer Paralympics: won a bronze medal in the 100m breaststroke and set a new world record in the event. She also competed in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, and 100m backstroke events.
- Held world records in the 100m breaststroke and the 50m breaststroke events.
She is not only a Paralympic swimmer but also an accomplished author and motivational speaker. She has written a memoir titled “Unstoppable” which chronicles her journey as a para-athlete and the challenges she has overcome.
Apart from her sporting and literary achievements, Jonkers is also a passionate advocate for disability rights and inclusion. In addition to founding the Sporting Dreams Foundation, she has also worked with various disability organizations, including the Australian Paralympic Committee, to promote greater awareness and understanding of disability issues.
Jonkers has received numerous accolades and awards for her contributions to sport and the community. In 2005, she was named Young Australian of the Year for Queensland in recognition of her achievements as a para-athlete and her advocacy work for people with disabilities.
In 2009, she became a graduate employment consultant for STEPS Disability Qld.
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