Kelly Cartwright

Paralympian and World Champion Sprinter

Kelly Cartwright is a Paralympian and multiple World Record holder sprinter.

Until she was 15, Kelly was a typical sporty Australian girl but in November 2004 Kelly’s world changed forever. Diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer in her right knee, Kelly was forced to choose between having her right leg amputated to give her the best chance of survival or facing radical surgery to remove the cancer but with the risk of the cancer spreading and ultimately claiming her life. Kelly chose amputation.

After a painstaking three months of rehabilitation Kelly was fitted with a prosthetic leg. Having learnt to walk again and faced with the thought of not playing netball she looked for a new direction. That direction was running.

Running with an artificial leg proved a challenge and produced many falls, cuts and bruises. But with every fall came more determination and it wasn’t long before the falls were replaced with a focus on the clock and the times Kelly was running.

In August 2005 Kelly tried out for and was accepted as a member of the Emerging Talent squad for the London Paralympics. What was remarkable was that this was achieved using a ‘walking’ leg, rather than a purpose-built prosthetic leg made for running. Spurred on by her early success, and with support from her friends and family, Kelly raised enough money to purchase a new purpose-built running leg and so began the career of the world’s most talented above-the-knee amputee.

In 2007, her proudest moment was running for the first time with her proper running prosthesis without falling over. Then in 2008, she competed at her first Paralympic Games in Beijing and finished sixth in the 100m.

In 2009, Kelly moved training squads to be coached by multiple Paralympic gold medallist Tim Matthews and subsequently broke the 200m world record and the 100m Australian record during the 2009 Oceania Paralympic Championships. Then in 2011, she won two gold medals (100m and long jump) at the IPC Athletics World Championships and broke the world record in the long jump. In 2012, she added two more world records to her name, breaking the 200m world mark at the Adelaide Track Classic and the 100m at the Australian Athletics Championships.

At the London 2012 Paralympics, Kelly cemented herself as one of Australia’s great athletes, jumping 4.38m to win gold in the long jump and silver in the 100m.

Away from the track, Kelly is an ambassador for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. In August 2009, she achieved the extraordinary feat of successfully reaching the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro and in 2012 was voted at number 13 in Maxim magazine’s hottest 100 Australian women.

Adding to the impressive achievements of this inspirational young woman, Kelly Cartwright was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the 2014 Australia Day Honours “for service to sport as a Gold Medallist at the London 2012 Paralympic Games”.

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