What a Year! Celebrating our Champion Athletes with Disability

IDPWD 2022

“It’s time for you to challenge your unconscious biases, leave your negative perceptions at the door and lift your expectation of what you think people with disability can do. Because it’s always more than you think.” – Dylan Alcott

International Day of People with Disability coming up on December 3, we’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate a truly incredible year for our champion athletes with disability.

When we say it’s been an extraordinary year in sport, we really mean it. Between Dylan Alcott, Kurt Fearnley, Jessica Gallagher, Madison de Rozario and Ellie Cole, 2022 has delivered an impressive list of accomplishments and accolades… Australian of the Year, Officer of the Order of Australia Medal, Medal of the Order of Australia, Athletics Australia Performance of the Year award, Paralympics Hall of Fame inductee, Commonwealth Games golden double in the women’s T53/54 marathon and 1500m and two women’s tandem cycling Commonwealth Games gold medals, just to name a few.

And the year’s not even over yet.

These proud Australian athletes provide inspiration and hope to the 4.4 million Australians living with disability, constantly challenging misconceptions and breaking down barriers on and off their chosen fields.

As we celebrate their achievements, we also increase awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability – and that’s what International Day of People with Disability is all about.

As the Marathon Man of wheelchair sports, Kurt Fearnley, so wisely observed, “Disability is a natural part of the human condition, yet all too often, people with disability aren’t disabled by their bodies, but they’re disabled by society.”

We all have a role to play in ensuring people with disability have the opportunity to reach their potential and participate fully in community life. By joining the conversation about disability, you can help these athletes challenge stereotypes and make your community and workplace more accessible, respectful and inclusive for people with disability.

Are you ready to help make a difference?

Our champion athletes, Dylan Alcott, Ellie Cole, Kurt Fearnley, Jessica Gallagher and Madison de Rozario, are all passionate and captivating speakers – and they’re ready to share their inspiring stories with your team.

Dylan Alcott: As a talented dual-athlete, Dylan is one of the world’s most celebrated sportspeople and a true Aussie legend. With 23 quad wheelchair Grand Slam titles to his name, Dylan’s accomplishments include a record-shattering 2021 in which he took home Olympic gold and became the first male ever to claim the illustrious Golden Slam. Dylan’s projects off the court, which include The Dylan Alcott Foundation, Ability Fest and Get Skilled Access are testament to his belief that being disabled is no barrier to success, nor to happiness. As a TV commentator, radio DJ and popular motivational speaker, Dylan uses his public stage to normalise and destigmatise disability – and it’s this relentless dedication to changing perceptions that earned him the 2022 Australian of the Year award, the first person with a visible disability to secure the title in the award’s 62-year history.

Jessica Gallagher: With two tandem cycling gold medals at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, sight-impaired high-performance athlete Jessica Gallagher cemented herself as one of the greatest female athletes of all time. Having represented Australia in four different sporting disciplines (track and field, alpine skiing, cycling and now rowing), Jessica was the first Australian athlete – Olympic or Paralympic – to medal at both a Summer and Winter Games. Her life outside of sport is just as hectic as her training schedule, filled with commitments as a Board Director at Vision 2020 Australia and ambassador for Vision Australia and Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, as well as seeing patients in her private Osteopathic practice.

Kurt Fearnley: Kurt’s induction into the Paralympic Hall of Fame this year reinforced his place amongst the best-ever Australian athletes. Crowned as the Marathon Man of wheelchair sports, Kurt won five world championships and competed in over twenty marathons around the globe. He also medalled at four Olympic Games, taking home gold medals in 2004 and 2008 and winning the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games marathon. Kurt is an Ambassador of the Day of Difference Foundation and International Day of People with a Disability, as well as board member of Australian Volunteers International, and in 2018 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for his outstanding service and achievements.

Madison de Rozario: In 2019 Madison became the first Australian in history to win the elite women’s wheelchair race at the London Marathon, and a few weeks later collected a hat-trick of gold medals at the World Para-athletics Grand Prix. At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Madison won the first ever Paralympic gold medal for the Australian Athletics Team in the women’s 800m and then fought out a stunning win in the Marathon. At the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Madison successfully defended her golden double of the 2018 Games with wins in the 1500m and Marathon, and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia and the Athletics Australia Bruce McAvaney Award for Performance of the Year.

Ellie Cole: Ellie Cole is Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian, with 17 Paralympic medals to her credit from four Paralympic Games. In 2012, following a 6-medal haul (including 4 gold) at the London Paralympics, Ellie underwent a double shoulder reconstruction and fought hard to get back in the water. She made her return at the 2015 Swimming World Championships, winning 5 medals – 3 of which were gold. She has since represented Australia at the 2016 and 2018 Paralympics, as well as the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. Ellie has been named Cosmopolitan Magazine’s ‘Sportswoman of the Year’, and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to sport. 

With International Day of People with Disability just 6 weeks away, it’s time to lock in a motivational speaker to talk to your team. Our champion disabled athletes will challenge misconceptions and attitudes, and help make your workplace a more inclusive space for all. If you’d like us to introduce you, simply get in touch with us for a chat