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.
Surgery and 12 months of rehabilitation were no guarantee that Ellie would be able to swim at a competitive level again, even she had her doubts, but just as she did as a child, Ellie silenced naysayers with a strong comeback.
It was her return to the pool at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships that she took home gold, silver and bronze medals and broke world records. She continued her record-breaking success at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships and the Rio Paralympics, most recently adding another silver and bronze to her collection after the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
She is a true trailblazer for the growth and promotion of Paralympic sport, growing up in a time when there were no real para-athletes to look up to. Ellie confessed that until she was about 12, she didn’t know about Para-sport and her sporting heroes were the Olympic Swimmers of the Sydney 2000 Olympics era.
Luckily for today’s generation, kids both disabled and able have women like Ellie to look up to. Acting as a youth ambassador and motivational speaker she shares.
“Now young disabled kids are seeing people just like them on the TV… I’ve even had completely able-bodied kids tell me that they want to be Paralympians when they grow up.”
During the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the main theme was “One Team,” meaning there was no differentiation between the para-athletes and the able-bodied athletes.
Champion Olympic Swimmer Emily Seebohm was quoted as saying, “We are one team, there is no difference between us and the Para-athletes.”
Ellie expressed just how much that quote meant to her personally and how important it is for disabled children and people to hear.
“Seebohm is one of the best swimmers in the world, and for us to know that we have her full backing, fills me with some pretty good feelings about the future," she said.
"I’m just looking forward to the day when young kids can read a letter from their National Sporting Organisations and not have to feel any different about themselves.”
As a country, Australia is still in its infancy when it comes to growing and supporting para-sport, but with game-changers like Ellie Cole leading the way, the future of para-sport looks bright.