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Thursday, 18 October 2012
Pupils, parents, teachers and guests from across the region attended an inspiring talk from Paralympian swimming medallist Elizabeth Wright at Bolton School’s Arts Centre. Elizabeth, who represented Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games, is now a Paralympic Sport Ambassador for CBM, an overseas disability charity, and motivational speaker based in the UK. Her message to the audience was "aim to achieve your full potential."
Elizabeth was born with limb deficiency and is missing half an arm, half her right leg and a finger; she also has two of her fingers joined together. She wears a prosthetic limb and has always had the mindset of “I can do this.”
Elizabeth recapped her early life in Sydney and how her parents had been “shocked, sad and scared” when she was born. It had been 4 days before the doctors allowed her mother to see her; however, her parents decided to raise her just as they had her able-bodied brother and sister. From the start, Elizabeth’s mantra had been “Leave me alone, I can do this on my own.” She said she had attended a mainstream school but had never been teased or bullied, largely because of her positive attitude and her willingness to always have a smile and an ear for others.
After seeing the 1992 ticker tape parade at the Barcelona games, Elizabeth was inspired and decided she wanted to be a Paralympian. She trained hard from 1993 onwards and was amazed, aged just 16 years, to get the call up for the Atlanta Games to represent Australia in the pool. Achieving a Personal Best in the Butterfly qualifiers she went on, against all odds, to win a bronze medal in the final.
Four years later, at the Sydney Games, she won a silver medal in the 400m freestyle, despite being ranked only 12th in the world in this category and another bronze medal as the Australian Relay Team recorded a third place finish.
Whilst thoroughly enjoying the Sydney experience, by the age of 21 she felt she had had enough of the life of an elite athlete and was tired of the 5.00am starts in the pool. Very much of the view that life is one big adventure, she has since travelled the world, gained a Masters degree and is currently studying for a PhD whilst living in London (she has dual citizenship).
She left the audience by reminding them that she had always believed that “I can achieve whatever I put my mind to” and that you should always “maintain the focus on the job that you have to do.” Her final advice was “If I can achieve in my life, you can achieve in yours. Believe in yourself and you can achieve your dreams.”
Elizabeth dedicated the evening lecture to her auntie who had played such a big part in her life and who had died 2 days earlier back in Australia.
The lecture was organised by Bolton School Girls’ Division as part of their timetable of Enrichment Activities.