Australia’s Ellie Cole has been voted the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athlete of the Month for August after swimming to six gold medals at the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Canada. Cole received 41 percent of the vote on the IPC’s Facebook poll to beat Portugal’s Boccia star, Abilito Valente, who claimed 36 percent of the vote. Canada’s Christine Selinger (Para-Canoe), Korea’s Jeon Ho Wan (Boccia) and Great Britain’s Sonar Sailing Team were also up for the award. The 20-year-old returned to Australia with victories in the 50m Freestyle, 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, 100m Backstroke and 200m Medley (S9) races. “I was actually surprised just to have won the first event, and then I won the second and then the third, and I was like, `I wonder if I can keep this ball rolling?’ And then I did,” Cole told www.paralympic.org.
“I’m pretty pleased with that.” Cole was especially pleased with her performance in the 100m Butterfly. “I’ve really been struggling with that over the last year, and finally I swam it properly for the first time in a while, so I was pretty stoked with the result there,” she said. Now, Cole will compete in Australia’s National Championships in March before heading to the Paralympic Games in London next summer.
Four years after winning a silver and two bronze at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Cole said she will be much more seasoned heading into London 2012. “I didn’t go over there to win any medals or anything, I just went to check it out,” Cole said of Beijing 2008. “Last time I was only 16, and it was my first major, major competition.
I’ve been to a few major World Championships now, so this time I’ll definitely be going in with a bit more experience and a bit more maturity.” She added that her top competitors in London are expected to be South Africa’s Natalie du Toit, Great Britain’s Stephanie Millward and Spain’s Sarai Gascon. But because she is training in Australia, Cole is not quite sure what to expect out of them in the pool. “It’s a bit difficult because we’re kind of on this island in the middle of nowhere, so it takes us two to three days to get to a destination for competitions,” Cole said.
“I’d be lucky to see my competitors twice a year.” Nonetheless, Cole can hardly wait until next summer, and she said her friends and family already purchased their tickets to the Games early Friday morning. If she is able to get personal-best times in one or more of her races at London 2012, Cole said, then she will be satisfied.