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'Nobody sees you.' The one thing Ellie Cole wants you to know about her time on I'm A Celebrity.

Ellie Cole might be Australia's most decorated female Paralympian — winning a mammoth 17 medals swimming for Australia — but the I'm A Celebrity jungle presented a different degree of challenges. 

"The jungle was unlike anything that I ever thought it would be and I've watched it for years and years," Ellie told Mamamia, after being eliminated with Brittany Hockley in Thursday's semi-final.  

"It was the hardest four weeks of my life. I had so many ups and downs. Like I'm talking every 10 minutes, I was either up or I was like, nope, I want to go home. And then 10 minutes later, I wanted to stay here till the end. The whole experience was crazy. I had the greatest time of my life." 

Ellie proved to be a popular contestant this season, making it to the top five for her hilarious antics, important discussions about the unjust realities for disabled Australians, oh, and that time she was left bloody-handed after getting mauled by a box of rats. 

But for many viewers, the biggest highlight was watching Ellie teach UK comedian Stephen K. Amos how to swim — and Ellie agrees. 

"That was the highlight for me. I learned very early on that Stephen didn't know how to swim. I was setting out to teach him how to float but then once he learned how to float, he started learning how to move his body through water. He had this really ambitious goal of swimming out to the waterfall."


Stephen nabbed himself a damn good coach in the six-time gold Paralympic medallist. On this week's episodes, the comedian reached his goal with Ellie by his side. 

"He actually made it out to the waterfall! Seeing his face light up... his eyes looking up and spotting the waterfall knowing he was coming in close," she said.

"I will never ever forget that look for my whole life."

I'm not crying, you are.

In the jungle, Ellie spoke up about some of the moments in her swimming career when she felt dismissed, opening up about the fight for Paralympians to be awarded the same prize money as Olympians and losing out on a sports award to an able-bodied silver medallist. It's one of the main things she wants people to take away from her time on the show.


"I was on the swim team for almost 17 years. I always had to fight for not necessarily recognition, but just acknowledgment in terms of what I was contributing to swimming in Australia. It was really hard for me to swim alongside Olympians all of the time, and even train alongside Olympians, and then always be overlooked in every aspect that you can possibly imagine," she said. 

"It's something that I didn't really feel comfortable speaking about when I was an athlete because every time I did raise any kind of discomfort around that topic... I felt at the time, they weren't necessarily taking any action — it was all just words."

Listen to The Spill's hosts dissect Michelle Bridges' time on I'm A Celebrity. Post continues after podcast. 

Since retiring, she's found her voice and went into the jungle with the intention of speaking up about these negative experiences. 

"I don't like confrontation and I don't like to make other people feel uncomfortable. But it [staying silent] ended up being at my own expense and at the Paralympic movement's expense," she said.

"I waited until I retired before I started speaking about these things, but now that I am speaking about them, I wish that I had done it sooner." 

Ellie hopes that times are changing and incoming athletes have a better experience than she did. 

"It was difficult for me to speak about it. It was something that for years and years, I was always conditioned to just never talk about," she said.


"Unfortunately, it's the experience of so many Paralympic athletes. We're in 2024, we're in a Paralympics year. I do not want any current athlete to grow up in their sport feeling any less valued than the person who's standing next to them. That's how I felt for my whole career. It's hard when you work so hard, but nobody sees you." 

While in the jungle, Ellie forged many close friendships, admitting she was surprised by how well she got along with influencer, Skye Wheatley. 

"I was really taken by Skye. I'm gonna be honest with you, I had a prejudice about her going in and how I thought our relationship was going to be over the next four weeks together," she admitted.

"But from the moment that I met her, I just felt this real warmth about her and she just made me laugh so much. I was really disappointed in myself that I felt some kind of prejudice against her before I'd even met her."  

Overall, the new mum was thrilled with her entire jungle experience, even if she's returning home with nine rat bites still healing on her hand. 

"I was actually really happy with how I managed the whole experience and what I was able to get personally out of it. The experience was everything I was hoping for," she beamed.

"I honestly don't think I would have done anything differently."

Neither do we, Ellie, you absolute superstar. 

Feature image: Ten.