It wasn’t all that long ago Maddi Elliott was in a primary class.
In fact, she is still at school midway through her year 12 studies at Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College.
But next month the Gillieston Heights 17-year-old, who is currently learning to drive, will be in Rio swimming at her second Paralympic Games.
And it was her fellow students and class mates who provided a fitting farewell at the Fletcher campus on Thursday.
With special assemblies, a guard of honour and a few parting gifts, Elliott said she was encouraged by her cohort’s strong showing of support.
“It felt quite good to have that support and the amazing send off,” she said.
“I knew something was happening but I didn’t expect it to be that big.
“It made me feel like they would all watch me swim over the next couple of weeks.”
Elliott will contest five individual events and potentially two relays from September 7, when the world’s best disabled athletes take over from the Olympics in Brazil.
It will be a similar workload to London four years ago, when the cerebral palsy sufferer burst onto the international sporting scene as a 13-year-old rookie and became Australia’s youngest ever Paralympic medalist.
Elliott, who also managed to meet Prince Harry while on assignment in the UK, collected an unexpected four medals but none of them were individual gold.
However, this time around as world record holder and Commonwealth Games champion she will go into the meet as favourite for the S8 women’s 100 metres freestyle.
Top spot and beating her personal best time of one minute and 4.71 seconds are Elliott’s main goals for the 2016 campaign.
She flies out to the US on Monday bound for a training camp at Auburn University.
Elliott is part of the extended Hunter contingent heading to the Paralympics with Prue Watt set to join her in the pool.
The athletics crew will be steered by Australian team captain Kurt Fearnley with fellow wheelchair racers Christie Dawes of Merewether and Newcastle-based Rheed McCracken providing strong support. Charlestown’s Erin Cleaver, who has cerebral palsy, is set to make her Games debut.
And in the saddle Scone’s Lisa Martin will participate in equestrian.
It made me feel like they would all watch me swimMaddi Elliott