Hi, I’m Ella! I am 14 years old and live in Newcastle. I was born without my lower left arm and although some people question my ability to do things and get on with life, I’ve never seen my limb difference as a disadvantage. I always give everything a go and find my way around anything I find difficult. Through my limb difference I’ve had so many amazing opportunities available to me. I’ve taken part in events such as AMP Camp, Para-athletics, adaptive surfing and much more. I’ve also met and made friends with so many incredible and motivational people.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved sport, especially running. I joined little athletics back in 2013 and started training for athletics and cross country shortly thereafter. In 2014 I found out about Para-athletics and was classified into the T47 category - T47 is a classification for track events. I compete at a state level in both Para and able-bodied running events; my favourites being the 400m and 800m. I’ve also been to national championships many times for Para-athletics; although for Para-athletics, my classification only allows me to race in the sprints (400m and shorter).

Recently I’ve made great improvements in my times, and if I keep working hard, hopefully I’ll be able to represent Australia one day. I currently hold the U18 400m -T47 Australian record and my ultimate goal is to compete in the 400m at the Paralympics.

To achieve my dream, I have set a number of goals in order to qualify for the Paris Paralympics in 2024. My first goal is to make the Nationals All Schools and Australian Championships again next year, where I will hopefully continue to improve my times. Currently my 400m PB is 62.67 seconds. If I can improve my time by about two seconds in the next 18 months then hopefully I will qualify for the World Para Championship in 2021. If I don’t meet the qualifying time, then I will aim to attend the World Para Junior Championship, which would still be an amazing achievement for me. The Open Australian 400m record for my classification is 60.15 seconds, which was set by Amy Winters in 2000, so getting that record is another goal of mine. In the meantime, I will need to keep focused, train hard and by 2024, hopefully I will be able to qualify for the Paris Paralympics!

I’m very lucky to have the support of my family in the pursuit of my dreams and fortunately, I have not had any major setbacks so far in my athletics journey. One area of concern however, is the difference in weight between my arms. Because I tend to use my right arm more, there is a bigger muscle build up on that side. That, along with having to lean further forward with my left arm to reach things, has lead to my shoulder blades being uneven. At the moment I don’t run with a prosthetic, and the full force of both arms is very important for sprinting, especially for getting up to speed. So even though I’d keep improving if I continued to run without a prosthetic, some sort of counterbalance is necessary for me to reach my full potential.

This is where START foundation has been able to help me. I heard about START at AMP Camp and thought about how amazing and beneficial a grant for a running prosthetic would be. START foundation is such a fantastic organisation that helps a lot of people with limb difference to achieve their sporting dreams. Receiving a grant from START for a running prosthetic will assist my athletics in so many ways and make my goal of going to the Paralympics an even greater possibility. It will make my block starts quicker and stronger, act as a counter balance whilst I’m running, help me drive during the acceleration stage of a race and allow me to maintain that speed. At first, it is going to be tricky to adapt to running with a prosthetic, and I will have to train a lot with it in order to see results, but in the long term it will assist my athletics performance dramatically. I’m a very determined and hardworking person who always strives be the best I can be. I would like to inspire other young people with limb differences to get involved in sport and push themselves to their full potential.

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