Swimming champion Ellie Cole has been named Australia’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony on Sunday after becoming Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian during the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The 29-year-old won a silver medal and a bronze medal in Tokyo to take her career haul past the 16 won by swimmer Priya Cooper.
The 17 medals make Cole Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian in history.
“To be able to say my final farewell to our Paralympic team by representing them in what I consider to be one of the highest honours bestowed upon an athlete, it really is an honour. I’m honestly speechless,” Cole said.
“This moment means so much to me and will continue to mean so much to me for the rest of my life.
“It was a grind to get to Tokyo for all of the athletes and all of the staff on the team as well. So to be able to get through to this moment together, to be able to celebrate the last two weeks together as a team, and to be able to celebrate that as flag bearer on the final night, it honestly is a fairytale ending to such a wonderful career that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
As an infant, Cole underwent chemotherapy to treat cancer, but the treatment was unsuccessful and her leg was amputated. She soon turned to swimming despite originally wanting to be a ballerina.
Australian Paralympic team chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said the honour for Cole was timely given her announcement that the 2020 Games would be her last.