Eliza launches new APM WorkCare Lockdown Series

Published on 24 Aug 2020

Setting goals and understanding the impact of allied health professionals in a person’s life are key to achieving success according to Paralympian and Commonwealth Games medallist Eliza Ault-Connell.

Speaking to APM WorkCare team members in the first of a series of motivational online talks, Eliza shared details of her success and the lessons she had learnt living with a disability.

Eliza was just 16 when she lost her legs and fingers to meningococcal disease.

Detailing her recovery in hospital and the decision to amputate her limbs to stop the spread of the infection, Eliza said the work of her physiotherapist had a profound impact on her recovery and rehabilitation.

She also spoke about how she burst into tears when she received her first pair of prosthetic legs.

It was her first pair of running prosthetics and the dream of representing Australia at the time of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, that really inspired and motivated Eliza.

“It is easier to set more goals when you are used to being uncomfortable,” Eliza said as she recalled how throughout her rehab, she was uncomfortable, but the more she pushed herself and the more she achieved, the more her discomfort eased.

Already a keen athlete playing netball and basketball, Eliza was eager to find other sports to compete in and she became a determined and talented wheelchair racer.

Representing Australia and winning bronze in the wheelchair 800 metres in the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and 2006.

Eliza had retired from competition while starting a family, but a comment from one of her daughters in 2016 led to her getting back on the track and winning more medals.

"We were actually watching the 2016 Paralympics," Eliza told the ABC earlier this year.

"My daughter said to me, you used to be so cool when you did wheelchair racing,"

It was that moment that got the mother of three thinking about the possibilities of a comeback.

"I guess I never thought about what their perception was, about what I used to do," she explained.

"So, a couple of years later I managed to get an old track chair and jumped back in and the kids were so excited, and they thought mum's going to the Paralympics!

"Just the fact that they had the faith that I could do that again inspired me to have a crack."

Eliza soon placed second in the women's marathon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2018 and last at World Championships in Dubai won bronze in the 400 metres.

Eliza is also an advocate committed to raising global awareness about meningococcal disease.

APM WorkCare General Manager, Philip Paysden said: “Eliza was very generous and delivered her story with such positivity, her ability to relate to the allied health teams she was talking to was amazing, what a treat for the team.”

“Eliza is the first in the WorkCare Lockdown Series and what a way to start!”

Philip said three of the key messages Eliza shared were:

  1. Allied health professionals, regardless of age and experience, can have a profound impact on another’s journey
  2. Goal setting is critical
  3. It’s not about being dealt ‘shitty cards’ in life it’s recognising them as ‘shaping cards’