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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Ellie Cole

In their own words

Recorded 2021

Ellie Cole
Audio: 1 minute 23 seconds

I love swimming more than anything in the world. For me, swimming was particularly special because it was the only sport that I could participate in as a kid where I could take my prosthetic leg off, jump in the water and I could be the same as all the other kids. I think that when you’re young, you just want to be accepted by all of your friends and a way for me to do that was swimming. Then I found after a while that I could actually be better than most of my friends at that sport and it gave me a really great platform to show all of my friends at school that I could still achieve things in a physical sense. Because I definitely wasn’t running up and down beside them in the playground, but get me into a pool and I’ll beat you. That was always kind of the mentality that I had when I was younger. And so for me, like, the pool was definitely a great place of freedom. But it was where I learned how to back myself, how to be resilient, how to show the world what I could do. And then I found my way onto the Paralympic team with that exact same attitude and have since seen how the Paralympics can show the world what their athletes can do.

So I did that photoshoot with Peter right before the Rio Paralympic Games. And it was a moment where we really wanted to showcase the athletes of Australia that were going to the Olympics and the Paralympics. And so I was asked to do a photo shoot outside, which was really exciting for me to begin with. And then Peter put me on some really beautiful rocks with the Australian flag and I guess he kind of wanted to show what I wanted to do when I was younger, which was a mermaid, like, I always dreamed of being a mermaid when I was younger. And so to be able to capture that in a portrait, as well as you know, the strength and, you know, showcasing my disability as well and combining that into, like, my childhood dream with the inclusion of being strong and powerful, was a really great photo for me. And, you know, it's something that I've always looked back on, being really proud to have been involved in such a creation, but I always look at it and think that's not me, but it is. It's just beautiful.

Acknowledgements

This recording was made during interviews for the National Portrait Gallery's Portrait Stories series.

Related people

Ellie Cole OAM

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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