Ellie Cole Makes Budding Paralympian’s Dreams Come True

Bronze medalist Ellie Cole of Australia Women's S9 100m Freestyle Final Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

“Dreams do come true,” Emilee Pratt said after meeting her idol Ellie Cole, a surprise which brought the young swimmer to tears. After hearing a knock at the door of her Newcastle home, Emilee did not expect the six-time Paralympic world champion to be waiting to meet her on the other side. “I heard you’re a swimmer and you’re going to give me a run for my money soon hey?” Ellie said as she greeted Emilee, to which she nodded, “yes!” Emilee said that her goal is to “swim in the 2024 Paris Paralympics.”

Ellie and Emilee

Pratt, aged 10 years old from Newcastle, Australia, has never let anything hold her back from striving for her dreams. Emilee was born with tibial hemimelia, a rare condition where she was missing a tibia (shinbone). At only 9 months old, Emilee’s parents were faced with the gut-wrenching decision to amputate her leg. Despite Emilee’s mother feeling the weight of the decision and fretting on the world her newborn may miss, Emilee has defied all odds. Today, Emilee is a force to be reckoned with in the pool. The young athlete competes for Novocastrian Swim Club and competes in state multiclass competitions. Her favourite event is the 50-metre freestyle, where she said: “It is not a super long race, I am better at sprinting”.

Paralympian Ellie Cole, like Emilee, also lost her leg at a young age. At three years old, Cole was diagnosed with life-threatening sarcoma cancer, where after failed chemotherapy attempts, her leg was amputated. For Ellie, swimming was a part of her rehabilitation after losing her leg. Her swim instructor predicted it would take her a year to learn to swim in a straight line, yet it only took her two weeks. Now Ellie is a Paralympic champion with six gold, five silver and seven bronze Paralympic medals to her name. She has also been named Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Sportswoman of the Year and is listed in the Westpac 100 Women of Influence.

Ellie Cole Backstroke Start

Ellie Cole has always been Emilee’s idol, and the youngster aspires to be just like her in and out of the pool. “She has the exact same classification, and she is the exact same as me,” Emilee said. Both Ellie and Emilee have a right leg amputation above the knee and are classified in the Para-Swimming S9 category, a classification which includes swimmers with amputations and joint restrictions in one leg, and double below knee amputations.

The pair spent the afternoon together sharing stories and eating. “We spoke about how we don’t really wear high-heels,” Emilee said. “She also showed me how she drives a car. She uses a left foot accelerator pedal.” Ellie also shared some tips and tricks with Emilee, which have inspired her even more towards her Paralympic dreams: “I am going to increase my training and swim with people faster than me to motivate me,” Emilee said.

In reflecting on her childhood as a young para swimmer, Ellie said that “Paralympic sport wasn’t on the TV when I was a kid. It was really difficult growing up and never seeing anyone who looked like me playing sports, or being celebrated, or equal for that matter.” And now she is changing the narrative, where in visiting Emilee she is inspiring the next generation of Paralympians to rise up.

Ellie Cole and Emilee Pratt

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