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'It broke my dad's heart.' The one moment from I'm A Celebrity that deserves your attention.

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! features the highest of highs and lowest of lows, as celebrities open up about the life moments that shaped them. 

During the same episode where champion Paralympic swimmer, Ellie Cole, successfully taught comedian Stephen K. Amos to swim on his own — a beautiful moment that would warm the coldest of hearts —  Ellie also opened up about being discriminated against and overlooked in professional sport because of her disability. 

During a conversation with fellow contestant Brittany Hockley on Tuesday's episode, Ellie spoke about one of her first professional swimming competitions, recalling her excitement dwindling when she found out only the able-bodied swimmers' competitions were aired on television. 

"It is like the show didn't start until we were finished. I didn't know why, I had to ask my parents 'why is it like this?' I remember it broke my dad's heart because he had to tell me it was because I have a disability," Ellie remembered. 

Ellie saw this double standard as speaking to a larger problem. "Everything you see in sport reflects what we have in our society. It was like that everywhere — not just in sport." 

The swimming icon went on to reveal that while she was nominated for Australian Junior Sports Person of the Year, she lost to an able-bodied swimmer. "They gave the award to [an Olympic] silver medallist," she said.

At the time, Ellie had just won four gold and four bronze medals at the London Paralympic Games. 


This revelation was met by outrage from people online, whose hearts went out to Ellie, an Australian sporting legend. 

She also spoke about how before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, gold, silver and bronze medallists in the Paralympics didn't win any prize money, which is a steep contrast to the $20,000 awarded to gold medalists at the Olympics.

By the time she retired, Ellie would become Australia's most decorated female Paralympian, winning a mammoth 17 medals including six gold across four Paralympic Games. In 2020, she was Australia's flag bearer at the Tokyo Closing Ceremony.


In her confessional, Ellie opened up about feeling more comfortable speaking about her negative experiences in competitive sport now that she was retired from professional swimming. 

"This is what happened, please fix this and make sure it never happens again," she pleaded. 

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Ellie's story is an important perspective that needs to be platformed — especially on mainstream TV. 

A study from 2023 found that 57 per cent of the population agreed that there wasn't enough representation of people living with a disability in sport, as seven in ten Australians agree that while the industry has made steps to be more diverse, there is still work to be done to ensure everyone feels like they belong.

The study found that one in five Australians living with a disability reported concerns about feeling excluded as over half said they didn't know any athletes with their disability being represented.

If Australia's most successful swimming champion was still being discriminated against when she was at the top of the game, sport in this nation still has a long way to go.

Feature image: Ten. 

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