Maddison's eyes on Paralympics

ATTITUDE: Maddison Elliott in training at Coughlan's Swim Centre, Warners Bay. - Picture by Kitty Hill
ATTITUDE: Maddison Elliott in training at Coughlan's Swim Centre, Warners Bay. - Picture by Kitty Hill

Maitland's Maddison Elliott has been swimming since she was six months old.

The 12-year-old has six Australian athletics and three national swimming records for her age group.

Now Maddison, who has cerebral palsy, has her sights set on the London Olympics.

"I want to make it to the 2012 Paralympics and after that, the Commonwealth Games," she said yesterday.

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centres of the developing brain and results in limited movement and posture. Maddison does not let the condition slow her down.

"It makes it a bit harder but I don't really think about it," she said.

Maddison has caught the attention of Australian Swimming with Disability head coach Brendan Keogh, who has been monitoring her progress for the past few years.

She won five gold medals at the NSW Multi-Class Longcourse Swimming Championships, at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, in Homebush, on October 23.

The year 6 student took up athletics two years ago and the exercise has helped to extend movement in her muscles.

"It helps me with my strength, especially on my right side, which is the worst," Maddison said.

"It's also really fun and I get to make new friends."

Maddison's hard work has paid off and she has been invited to compete at the Australian athletes with a disability junior championships in Canberra on November 20 and 21.

"I love it, I'm pretty excited and proud," she said.

Maddison trains in the pool five days a week.

Her favourite swimming stroke?

"Butterfly," the smiling youngster said.

Maddison trains with head coach Paul Sharman and the junior coaches at Coughlan's Swim Centre, Warners Bay, and is a member of the Novocastrian Swimming Club.

"Maddi is a great athlete to work with," Sharman said.

"Her disability doesn't limit anything she wants to achieve and she is always prepared to listen and improve.

"She definitely inspires not just other disabled athletes but also all those who come into contact with her."