Dan Fitzgibbon

Dan Fitzgibbon

Dan was one of Queensland’s brightest young sailing stars on a path to representing Australia at the Olympic Games in the 470 class.

Soon after leaving school, in one moment, his life was forever altered. 

Dan was in Sydney for an Olympic classes sailing regatta when he attended a yacht club party with other teenage sailors. He was pushed into the water by a group of the teens and broke his neck, becoming a quadriplegic.

It was in the ICU of Royal North Shore Hospital, surrounded by photos of wheelchair-bound athletes playing sports a top level, that Dan faced his future.

His triumphant story is one of hope, leadership, courage and a refusal to give-in to the countless obstacles that he faced.

Daniel’s early dream to become a Paralympic champion was impossible because no boat existed for quadruplegics to sail, so Dan designed a new one which was adopted by the International Paralympic Committee. It has an ingenious system whereby quadriplegics manoeuvre the yacht by blowing into hydraulic controls.

Dan won the Silver Paralympic medal in Beijing, then teamed up with Paralympic basketball medallist Liesl Tesch to win Gold in London.

 In Rio, 2016, they became the only Paralympic sailors ever to win back-to-back Gold medals. 

Back in Australia, Dan has pioneered Integrated Sailing, giving opportunities for all people with disabilities to enjoy sailing aboard a specially prepared yacht in the open yacht club races.

During his sailing career, Dan’s personal life was the stuff of a romantic movie. A chance meeting to find his beautiful carer, Kumi brought a blossoming relationship that resulted in their marriage and their beautiful baby daughter, Hana.

Phil Houghton