Australians love an underdog. The idea of defying all odds, never giving up hope and proving doubters wrong inspire hope and courage for our own battles.
Being coined ‘a sporting nation’ Australia crave sporting heroes who rise from the ashes and show us that defeat is only a state of mind and anything is possible.
One of these sporting heroes, is six-time Paralympic gold medallist, Ellie Cole.
At the age of three, Ellie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer which ultimately led to the loss of her leg. A large battle for one so young, but even as a toddler Ellie began showing glimpses of her strength and determination.
When Ellie started swimming as a form of rehab post-surgery, doctors expected it to take at least a year to learn how to swim.
It took her two weeks.
As she grew, Ellie began competing against able-bodied kids, but was always slower due to having one leg.
She recalls the day her swimming coach decided her squad were ready to have their flippers altered as they were getting faster but when Ellie presented her flipper to her coach he told her that he didn’t think she was ready.
“It’s always been a personal mission of mine to reinvent the wheel on how people perceive others with a disability," she said.
"When I was diagnosed with cancer, my parents were worried about the life I would experience with a disability.
"They thought the worst about bullying, accessibility issues, relationships, career aspirations and always feeling like I wouldn’t be living to my full potential.”
Fast forward several years, now with 27 different coloured medals Ellie proved once again, on a much larger scale, what she can do with the doubt and low expectations of those around her.
One of my most exciting moments! Wearing 4 different #paralympic medals from 4 consecutive #paralympic games! pic.twitter.com/UOOMezK0— Ellie Cole (@EllieVCole) February 6, 2013
The anxiety her parents felt about Ellie not being able to live up to her full potential have been well and truly put to rest. For Ellie, life is not about limitations, it’s about travelling, swimming really fast and “getting the best parking a girl could ask for."
But after a successful haul at the 2012 London Paralympics she was dealt a potentially career-ending blow; a double shoulder reconstruction