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Paraylmpic stars inspire youth

Kyabram P-12 College students had the opportunity to meet two inspirational young people in Paralympic swimmers Ellie Cole and Matt Haanappel on Monday.

February 20, 2013 4:18am

Australian Paralympic gold medalists Ellie Cole and Matt Haanappel gave a positive and inspiring talk to Kyabram P-12 College students on Monday.


Kyabram P-12 College students had the opportunity to meet two inspirational young people in Paralympic swimmers Ellie Cole and Matt Haanappel on Monday.

Ellie Cole, 21, won six medals including four gold at the London 2012 Paralympics. She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two and had her right leg amputated above the knee aged three. She was encouraged to get into a pool as part of her rehabilitation and found swimming to her liking.

She began competing at swimming competitions against competitors without any disability and never really realised her disadvantage until later.

Ellie won a silver medal in her first world championships at the age of 14 and then won two silvers and a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics before her triumphs in London.

Matt Haanappel, 18, won gold and bronze relay medals in London last year. He was born with cerebral palsy and his condition means he no senses in his right hand. This has resulted in severe burns when he has unwittingly touched hot surfaces. He also lacks the fine dexterity skills required for tasks such as tying shoelaces and has little spacial awareness.

Both Paralympians showed themselves to be great role models as they told the students to focus on positives and not dwell on negatives.

They also provided several amusing examples of situations arising from their particular disabilities and passed their medals around the audience.

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