START Ambassador

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Kelly Cartwright

Paralympic World Record holder and Gold medalist

It’s usually the beautiful smile that you notice when you first meet Kelly Cartwright. It’s only later that you realise there’s something a little different about this beauty from Geelong – she is missing one leg.

The story of Kelly’s life is best described as triumph over adversity. At the tender age of 15, after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in her right knee, she was forced to make a decision that would change the direction of her life. In November 2004, faced with the option of amputation or radical surgery to remove the cancer (doctors told her she would most likely still have cancer after surgery), Kelly chose amputation for her best chance of survival. After a painstaking 3 months of rehabilitation she was fitted with a prosthetic leg. Having learnt to walk again, and facing the reality that her netball career was over, she looked for a new direction. That direction was running.

Sprinting with an artificial leg proved a challenge and produced many falls resulting in cuts and bruises, but with every fall came more determination, and it wasn’t long before Kelly was moving strongly, with her focus on the clock and the times she was recording. With support from her friends and family, Kelly raised enough money to purchase a new purpose-built running leg.

Completing her VCE at Bellarine Secondary College in 2006, Kelly had a new aim in life – to be Australia’s best above-knee amputee sprinter. Training 6-7 days a week and competing on weekends during summer, Kelly soon achieved her goal. With a growing passion for running, Kelly’s training intensified in pursuit of her latest goal – to be the best above-knee amputee 100m sprinter in the world. Adding to her fast-growing list of achievements Kelly became the first above-knee amputee woman to climb to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in 2009.

Away from the track, Kelly is an ambassador for START Foundation to assist Amputees to achieve their sporting dreams, Make-A-Wish Foundation along with iconic Australian brands Qantas and Bonds. She is also the face of global prosthetics company Ossur and has joined forces with Aussie Bodies to help promote good health for all Australians.

Returning from the 2011 World Championships with two gold medals and a new world record in long jump ensured Kelly was going to be under pressure at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. 2012 was by far Kelly’s biggest year in sport. Drawing on all her training, she rose to the top in Long Jump, setting a new world record; claimed the gold medal; and ran a personal best in the 100m to claim silver at the London Paralympic Games. 2013 Kelly competed in the Manchester City Games prior to launching the next phase of her exciting journey.

Kelly has become one of the most credible health and fitness models staring for international clothing brands Cotton On and Bonds and in 2015 became the first Paralympic Gold medallist to compete in Australia’s Dancing with the Stars.

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