When Emilee Pratt heard the doorbell ring on Saturday afternoon and opened her front door, she never dreamt six-time Paralympic gold medallist, Ellie Cole, would be standing on the other side.
As a young para swimmer aspiring to make the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, meeting her idol was simply a dream come true and a moment she’ll never forget.
“I was just speechless – I couldn’t believe that Ellie was standing at my door,” she exclaimed.
“We chatted about everything – training, food, what Ellie was like when she was little, driving a car and our legs.
“She is my idol, I want to grow up to be just like her and I know if I train hard I can achieve my goals just like Ellie has.
“After spending time with her I know exactly what I need to do to achieve my goal of getting to the Paralympics.”
Cole and Pratt share a similar story, with both athletes requiring their right legs to be amputated for medical conditions when they were very young; Pratt at nine months old and Cole at three years of age.
Pratt was diagnosed with tibial hemimelia when she was born – a rare congenital condition where a child's tibia (shinbone) is shorter or missing altogether – while Cole suffered a life-threatening Sarcoma cancer.
When an opportunity presented itself for Cole to drive up the coast to Newcastle in New South Wales to meet Pratt, she jumped at the chance.
“I was absolutely thrilled to meet Emilee. She reminds me so much of myself when I was that age,” Cole said.
“Para sport wasn’t on TV when I was a kid and I think it is awesome that Emilee has been able to follow my journey and be inspired to become a future Paralympian.
“She is an absolute powerhouse and I think people need to keep their eyes and ears out for Emilee’s name in the future.”
Making sure they still kept their social distance, the two spent time exchanging stories, while Pratt also gained some valuable advice from her role model.
Pratt’s mum Kylie sincerely thanked Ellie for taking the time to visit Emilee and said her daughter would never forget this day.
“The look of joy and excitement on her face was unforgettable and I don’t think I have seen her more excited to get up and go to swimming training now,” she said.
“It was certainly hard to keep it a secret from her but worth it just to see her reaction when Ellie arrived at the door.”
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