Karni Liddell

Inspirational Speaker

Karni Liddell has already established herself as one of the most successful and well-respected Paralympic swimmers of our time.

A former World Record holder, Karni represented Australia at the Atlanta Paralympic Games in 1996 and captained the Number 1 team at the Sydney 2000 Games, retuning from both Games with medals. Karni also headed to Athens as the Ambassador for the Australian Paralympic team and as a commentator.

However, her journey to success began differently from most elite athletes. Diagnosed at 12 months with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, her determined parents were told by numerous specialists that their first-born child would not walk or crawl, and to not expect their little girl to reach her teenage years.

Today, Karni has an amazing story to tell. A captivating, moving and inspirational speaker, Karni Liddell will challenge her audiences to let go of the excuses why they can't do something - and motivate them to keep going until they do it. She is able to relate her story to the highs and lows of business and life in a way that is relevant to audiences at every level.

Karni demonstrates to everyone who hears her story that each and every one of us has a choice in life and that our choices should not be determined by our circumstances.

When told of Karni's diagnosis, instead of listening to the ‘experts', her parents soon realised that one of the greatest pleasures in life is achieving things people say can't be done! They began a rehabilitation program, which they invented themselves, and had her doing everything from horse riding at two, trampolining at three, and then of course swimming.

Swimming became more than just a therapy, it became a passion - and the reason why Karni, her parents and even the specialists believe she is alive, walking, active and healthy. Not only did Karni walk, she established herself as one of the best swimmers in the world. She broke her first world record at 14 and went into the Sydney Paralympic Games as the fastest woman in the world for all her events. She was also responsible for helping Westpac Bank to raise $1 million to send the full team to the Athens Paralympic Games.

Karni Liddell loves to speak about her life, the highs and lows, and all the hilarious stories along the way. She is very passionate about expelling the stereotypes surrounding disabled people and the Paralympics: ‘Accidents and disability don't discriminate; they choose beautiful people every day!' 

Karni has been showcased in Inside Sport , modelled for Black and white, New Idea and several other magazines.

Karni is now a presenter on 4BC radio and worked as a commentator at the Athens Paralympic Games, at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the World Swimming Championships.

Karni Liddell speaks about:


  • Tough times, sporting success, health obstacles, family support and perseverance.
  • How we cannot control what life throws at us, we can only control how we handle what is thrown.
  • Goal setting and how to handle adversity.


Client testimonials

‘The best speaker I have ever experienced’ was a sentiment echoed by high profile business executives and politicians at our event. Karni Liddell’s message to our business community proved inspirational to our audience on corporate, personal and family levels.

Capricorn Tourism & Economic Development

When we invited Karni Liddell to join us as a guest motivational speaker at our annual conference for our top-performing employees, we did not anticipate the extent to which she would capture the hearts and minds of our people. When Karni later joined us on a leadership development roadshow across Australia, there were few who not left absolutely inspired by her journey.


When Karni presented at the AMP national sales conference, an audience of over 1500 rose spontaneously in a standing ovation in tribute to both the story and the person behind it. This audience has been exposed to some of the best speakers from around the world and there is no doubt that Karni would be considered amongst the top ten speakers.


We were absolutely delighted to have Karni speak at our recent staff retreat. A truly amazing, down to earth and positive person, she certainly was the highlight of our two days and definitely inspired us all. A number of staff commented that she was one of the best motivational speakers that they had heard.

CQ Medicare Local