Joany Badenhorst – Paralympian, World Champion Para-Snowboarder, Motivational Speaker, Sports Commentator, Diversity Model, Brand Ambassador
Paralympians enter their chosen sport for all sorts of reasons but few have a back-story tacked with as many triumphant spectacles and tragic setbacks as Australia’s pre-eminent female para-snowboarder Joany Badenhorst. Her sporting credentials are a testament of what can be achieved when tenacity and talent meet limitless acceleration. By age 24, Joany earned an enviable Snowboard World Cup medal tally at the 2017 championships which at last count included five gold, seven silver and 10 bronze, along with the prestigious International Paralympic Committee’s Crystal Globe in recognition of her truly unrivalled sportsmanship and supreme snowboarding skills. Two weeks later she was propelled into the position of co-captaining Australia’s elite athlete delegation competing at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea, not to mention earning the prestigious honour of also being our nation’s first female competing snowboarder and flagbearer at a Paralympic Games. Equally impressive is that it was thanks to inspirational athletes like Joany Badenhorst that saw the extraordinary growth of disability snow sports in Australia, with participation nearly doubling during that time. As an active child growing up on a hobby farm some 300km outside of Bloemfontein, the central capital of South Africa, Joany competed in modern dance and athletics, winning an impressive collection of provincial colours.
But for Joany, she loved nothing more than hanging with family and friends on the farm, bike racing, horse riding and swimming in the river. In mid-2005, Joany’s life was changed forever in just a matter of minutes after a near-fatal tractor accident severed her left leg. In the ensuing months and years, Joany began her new life journey, resolute that total reinvention wasn’t required. It was the wise words of actor Will Smith that kept her focused and accepting of her fait accompli: “In order to take that all-important first step, you firstly need to find the resolve within that you can.” Joany’s sheer determination became unstoppable. She joined the South African Paralympic program and, after the family relocated to Australia, Joany qualified to compete in athletics at the 2009 Paralympic Youth Games. After narrowly missing out qualifying for the London 2012 Games, a chance encounter with a snowboarding coach while test-driving a new prosthetic leg in a pair of high-heels changed Joany’s career course forever. However, despite achieving selection to two Australian Paralympic Teams (Sochi 2014 & Pyeongchang 2018), Joany has technically never competed at a Paralympic Games due to sustaining severe injuries during pre-training at both international events. But ever the optimist, Joany’s relentless desire to beat all odds and continue achieving her dreams beyond the world stage has given her a remarkable edge to inspire people of all ages to achieve their own aspirations. And she’s doing exactly that through motivational speaking as well as in her role as an Ambassador for Stand Tall Australia, which provides unique one-day TEDx style events to connect with teenagers to change their mind sets – and ultimately the course of their lives. As Cosmopolitan Sport’s “Woman of the Year” and “one to watch” by Women’s Health, Joany Badenhorst proves that every great achievement is but a snow peak in the mountain range of life!